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GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 




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^USTAVE FLAUBERT 

AS SEEN IN HIS WORKS 
AND CORRESPONDENCE 

BY 

JOHN CHARLES TARVER 



D. APPLETON AND COMPANY 

MDCCCXCV 

'j<.kf 



DEDICATED 
TO THE MEMORY OF 

T. H. M. S. 



PREFACE 

My aim in the following pages has been to place the per- 
sonality of Gustave Flaubert vividly before my readers. It 
was through his letters, rather than through his works, that 
I became interested in him, and my original intention was 
to make a volume of translations of selected letters ; so that 
others might be impressed in the same way as myself. I 
found, however, that without continual references to his 
works, not all of which are translated into English, his 
letters would be unintelligible, and so gi*adually the book 
assumed its present form. 

I have done my best to avoid mere gossip about his 
private life, holding with him that an artisfs privacy should 
be respected ; and esteeming this to be, above all, a sound 
maxim, when so many personal acquaintances are still alive, 
as in the present case. Thus I did not look for facts which 
have not already appeared in print. My chief authorities 
are the author's own works and letters ; but I have made 
use of the introduction written by Madame Commanville to 
the first volume of her imcle's letters ; also of the critical 
and personal notice written by Guy de Maupassant, and 
printed with the volume of letters addressed to George 
Sand. I am indebted to Madame Commanville for per- 
mission to make use of these documents. She has been 



X LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

kind enough to read through the ms., and in every way to 
help me. I have to thank her also for the illustrations. 

In one case I have had to break my rule of making 
Flaubert write his own story. I have made use of the 
Souvenirs LUUraires of Maxime Ducamp ; in citing him I 
have, except by inadvertence, used inverted commas. He 
is not considered an unimpeachable authority by the family 
of Flaubert. 

Again, in the case of what with any other man would 
have been most private and most sacred — his love-letters. 
They seemed to me more illustrative of Flaubert's devotion 
to literature than any other of his letters; to omit them 
would have been to omit what is most striking in his cor- 
respondence ; and as both they and Maxime Ducamp's 
account of the lady to whom they were written had already 
been published, it seemed to me that I ran no risk of being 
charged with indiscretion in translating them, and citing 
Maxime Ducamp, whose book had not been translated when 
I wrote. 

I append a list of the works of Flaubert. The volume 
entitled Par les champs et par les greves, as also Bouvard 
et Pecuchet, were published after the author''s death ; and 
any defects in them may be attributed to the want of his 
revision. 

In translating I have found a special difficulty with the 
words ' bourgeois' and ' bete.' They are much in Flaubert's 
mouth ; the former was to him in literature, art, and morality 
what a ' snob ' was to Thackeray ; the latter is something 
different from our ' stupid ' : ' betise ' is often noisy, pushing, 
self-confident, superfluously energetic : as a rule, I have 



PREFACE xi 

found ' inane ' and ' inanity ' come nearest to the idea in- 
tended to be conveyed ; but I despair of having always 
reproduced Flauberfs indignation. 

I am afraid numerous Gallicisms still remain in spite of 
careful elimination, especially in the order of the words. I 
crave the indulgence of readers for these and other defects ; 
by becoming habituated to another language a translator 
ceases to be duly sensitive to the smaller points in which it 
differs from his own. 

In addition to Madame Commanville, I owe much grati- 
tude to her friend, Mademoiselle Marechal, who helped at an 
early stage of the work to keep me clear of errors. 

The book is dedicated to the memory of one friend ; it 
owes its existence to the ever-helpful and active sympathy 
of another. 

J. C. TARVER. 



LIST OF FLAUBERT'S WORKS. 

Madame Bovary. 
Salammbo. 

L' Education Sentimentale. 
La Tentation de Saint Antoine. 

Trois Contes. (Un Coeur simple, Saint Julian THospitalier, 
Herodias.) 
*Bouvard et Pecuchet. 
*Par les champs et par les graves. 
*Lettres a George Sand, avec une etude par Guy de 

Maupassant. 
*Correspondance. Tomes i., ii., in., iv. 
Le Candidal. Comedie en quatre actes. 

* These were published after the author's death. 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER PAGE 

INTRODUCTORY NOTE, .... XV 

I. CHILDHOOD SCHOOL DAYS LETTERS TO ERNEST 

CHEVALIER ..... I 

II. THE LAW STUDENT CORRESPONDENCE WITH HIS 

SISTER, . . . .19 

HI. ILLNESS MAXIME DUCAMP, ... 32 

IV. CROISSET DEATH THE MIDDLE-CLASS PERSON, . 37 

V. LOVE — LOUIS BOUILHET PARODY, . . 46 

VI. THE PATH OF LOVE NOT SMOOTH LETTER TO 

MRS. TENNANT, .... 59 

VII. TOUR IN BRITTANY — STYLE, ... 69 

VIII. THE DEATH OF ALFRED LE POITTEVIN, . . 79 

IX. THE 'ST. ANTHONY,' . . . .82 

X. THE EAST, ..... lOI 

XI. LIFE AT CROISSET — MADAME LOUISE COLET, . 122 

XII. 'MADAME BOVARY,' . . . . 156 

XIII. THE MAKING OF ' MADAME BOVARY ' THE PROSE- 

CUTION, . . . . .196 

XIV. ' SALAMMBO,' ..... 202 

XV. THE ' EDUCATION SENTIMENTALE ' LETTERS TO 

TWO LADIES RELIGION, . . . 220 

xiii 



xiv CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

xvi. death of louis bouilhet his artistic ideals 

— Flaubert's letter to the town council 

OF ROUEN, ..... 238 

XVII. THE ' EDUCATION SENTIMENTALE ' THE FRANCO- 
PRUSSIAN WAR LETTERS TO GEORGE SAND 

DEATH OF HIS MOTHER, . . . 25I 

XVIII. THE THREE SHORT STORIES ST. JULIAN THE 

HOSPITABLE, ..... 269 

XIX. LETTERS TO GEORGE SAND — HER DEATH, . . 281 

XX. LETTERS TO GUV DE MAUPASSANT AND OTHERS, . 29O 

XXI. ' BOUVARD ET PECUCHET,' . . 3OI 

INDEX, ...... 359 



INTRODUCTORY NOTE 

The man whose life forms the subject of the following volume 
was a man to whom truth seemed the most sacred of all obliga- 
tions. To attempt to portray his life and not to indicate wherein 
and why the portrait might be judged to deviate from the 
strictest rectitude in the matter of truth, would be to dishonour 
the memory of the man himself, to assume that he would be 
content to sail under colours that were not his own, that he 
would disavow his own personality in order to gain the popular 
favour. 

In transferring the personality of any man from one nationality 
to another, we are at once encountered with a difficulty. It is 
possible by too strict a fidelity to mere letters to give a dishonest 
portrait. What is indecent in England is venial in France ; 
on the other hand, France classes with improprieties many 
features in the ordinary commerce of English society. There 
are those Englishmen who look to France to supply them with 
unclean details, which they believe themselves to be unable to 
enjoy in the literature of their own country — to whom Zola is 
' hot,' Daudet ' warm.' To place Flaubert anywhere within the 
range of this sort of appreciation would be to misrepresent him. 

Further, in dealing with his correspondence one fact has 
always to be remembered : that of the four volumes of letters 
which have been published, no single letter was written by Flaubert 
with the idea that it would or could at any time appear in print. 

There are many of us who write letters, who tell stories in 
private, whose publication would be an outrage on public 
decency. There is one rule for the conversation of the 
smoking-room, another for dinner and dessert, yet another for 
the magazine article. Freedom of language, and violence of 
expression, permissible in private correspondence with a very 
intimate friend, would be justly stigmatised as Hbellous or coarse 



xvi LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

in works intended for publication. Therefore, while enough has 
been shown of the earlier letters to indicate the impetuous 
imagination of the youth afire with great thoughts, to whom the 
ordinary rules of conventional society were less than the stubble 
which we tread in September, the present editor has done his 
best throughout to eliminate everything that, by reason only of 
the variations of usage on the two sides of the Channel, on the 
one hand, and the conditions under which the letters were origin- 
ally written, on the other, might incline the English reader to 
avert his gaze, and miss the opportunity of enjoying the society 
of one of the best and noblest men of the nineteenth century. 



The House at Croisset. 



LIFE AND LETTERS OF 
GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

CHAPTER I 

CHILDHOOD SCHOOL DAYS LETTERS TO ERKEST CHEVALIER 

On the first of January 1831, a little boy living at Les 
Andelys, some twenty miles east of Rouen, received the 
following letter from another little boy : 

' Dear Friend, — You are right in saying that New Year's 
day is a stupid thing. My friend they have just sent the grey- 
haired La Fayette the bravest of the brave, the liberty of the 
two worlds. Friend, I will send you some of my political, 
constitutional liberal speeches, you are right to say you will 
make me happy by coming to Rouen, it will please me very 
much, I wish you a happy New Year for 1831. Kiss your 
good family for me with all your heart. 

' The playmate that you have sent me has the air of being a 
good fellow, although I have only seen him once. 

* I will also send you some of my comedies. If you wish us 
to join writing, I will write comedy, and you shall write your 
dreams, and as there is a lady who comes to our house, and 
who always talks silly things to us, I will write them. I am 
not writing well because I have a box from Nogent to receive. 
Goodbye, reply to me as soon as possible. 

' Good bye, good health, your friend alway. 

Reply to me as soon as possible I pray.' 

Thus with the hazardous punctuation, and (in the original) 
with the doubtful orthography of extreme youth, at the age 



2 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

of nine and three weeks, Gustave Flaubert wrote his first 
letter to a friend. 

Thirty-four years later his last published letter to the 
same friend has the following passage : — 

* I do not accept your affectionate rebukes, my dear Ernest, 
although they have moved me to the bottom of my soul. It 
is in vain that we see one another only at distant intervals and 
for a short time, I think of you very often, be sure of that, and 
I miss you, my dear old man ! As we grow older, as the home 
becomes dispeopled, we are carried back to the old days, to 
the times of our youth. You have been too much mixed up 
with mine, you have for a long time played too large a part in 
my life for coldness or forgetfulness ever to arise on my side. 
I never go to my brother's house at Rouen without looking at 
the dwelling of old Father Mignot, of which I still recollect 
the whole interior, even to the front of the chimney piece; 
Henry iv. with the fair Gabrielle, a neighing horse, etc. etc. 
When Easter comes round, I think of my visits to les Andelys, 
when we used to smoke pipe after pipe in the ruins of Chateau- 
Gaillard, and your poor father used to pour us out wine from 
Collioures, and carve us Amiens pies, laughing all the while so 
heartily at the absurdities I used to say. The other day I 
went to the College to see a small boy who had been com- 
mended to my notice by friends at Paris; the whole of my 
school life came back to my memory.' 

By the time that this letter was written, the friends had 
wandered far apart ; Ernest Chevalier had followed the 
ordmary routine of a capable jurisconsult, and occupied one 
legal position after another in the French Magistracy ; 
Gustave Flaubert had remained faithful to his first love, 
continued to busy himself with comedies and tragedies, and 
to record the absurdities with which his path through life 
was beset. 

Ernest Chevalier was a successful man ; he accomplished 
what his friends expected of him ; he rose in his profession, 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 3 

he married, he was successful ; and he will be remembered 
because of the little boy who used to write to him in the 
holidays. 

Gustave Flaubert was the son of Achille Cleophas 
Flaubert, surgeon-in-chief of the infirmary at Rouen, a man 
whose comparatively early death at the age of sixty-one was 
regarded as a public calamity in the town in which he had 
pursued his profession with the single-hearted devotion of 
an artist, and the large-mindedness of a man of genius. 
Though he was never permitted to accomplish the scientific 
task which he had proposed to himself, and to give the 
world the benefit of the carefully kept notes of his profes- 
sional career, he was kno\vn beyond Rouen ; and his son was 
more than once gratified by finding that his own name was 
familiar to men in distant places through the reputation of 
his father. ' Pere Flaubert,"* as he was commonly called at 
Rouen, was the son of a veterinary surgeon at Nogent-sur- 
Seine, and belonged thus to the province of Champagne, 
whose inhabitants are credited with a strain of chivalry and 
impetuosity foreign to the more cautious and cold nature 
of the Normans among whom he spent his maturity, and 
from whom he chose his wife. He is thus described by his 
son in Madame Bovary : — 

' Canivet was on the point of administering theriacum, when 
the crack of a whip was heard in the distance ; all the windows 
rattled, and a postchaise drawn by three horses at full gallop, 
splashed up to the ears, turned the corner of the mai'ket in one 
stride. It was Doctor Lariviere. 

'^The apparition of a god would not have caused a greater 
disturbance. Bovary raised his hands, Canivet stopped short, 
and Homais pulled off his cap even before the doctor 
entered. 

' He belonged to the great surgical school, which sprang from 
the dissecting table of Bichat, to that now lost generation of 



4 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

practical philosophers, who cherishing their art with a fanatical 
love, practised it with elevation and sagacity. Every one 
trembled in his hospital when he was out of temper, and his 
students respected him so much, that they struggled to imitate 
him to the best of their ability, even as soon as they were 
started in life ; so it came to pass that in all the towns in the 
neighbourhood there were recognised on their persons, his long 
merino comforter, and his full black coat, whose unbuttoned 
cuffs to some degree covered his muscular hands: very beautiful 
hands, that never wore gloves, as if to be more ready to dash 
in to the aid of suffering. Contemptuous of decorations, of 
honours, of Societies, hospitable, liberal, paternal to the poor, 
and practising virtue without believing in it, he would almost 
have passed for a saint, had not the sharpness of his wit made 
him terrible as a fiend. His look, more cutting than his 
instruments, went straight down into a man's soul, and through 
misstatements and modest reservations laid every lie bare ; 
and thus he moved with that easy majesty, which is given by 
the consciousness of a mighty talent, of wealth, and of forty 
years of an industrious and irreproachable existence. 

' At the door perceiving the cadaverous countenance of Emma 
stretched on her back, her mouth open, he knitted his brows. 
Then while appearing to listen to Canivet, he passed his fore- 
finger under his nose and kept repeating : — 

' Good — good — 

' But he made a slight movement with his shoulders. Bovary 
noticed it : they looked at one another ; and this man, accus- 
tomed as he was to the sight of sorrow, could not hold back a 
tear, which fell upon his shirt-frill.' 

In this masterly fashion does the son draw the portrait of 
the father, by whom he himself was never understood. 

On the mother*'s side, too, Gustave Flaubert was descended 
from a physician ; her father had been a country doctor, 
who married a Mademoiselle Cambremer, to the great 
scandal of the noble families of Lower Normandy with which 
she was related. She was a woman to whom it fell to bear 
something more than the ordinary burden of sorrow, and 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 5 

she played her part with dignity and resignation. She was 
a devoted mother. 

The Flaubert family consisted of the father and mother, 
the eldest son, Achille, who afterwards succeeded his father 
in the Infirmary at Rouen, Gustave, nine years younger, and 
a daughter, Caroline, three years younger still. These two 
last children were distinguished by remarkable personal 
beauty — a royal personage once stopped to notice Gustave 
in the street — splendid alike in colouring and form, they 
unconsciously attracted the homage which is ever rendered 
to comeliness of person. 

Up to the age of nine Gustavus had not learned to read ; 
while his sister easily acquired the art, he remained confused 
and stupefied in the presence of the mysterious forms of 
letters. Meanwhile, his mind was not inactive : on the one 
hand, he was attended by a veritable jewel of a nurse, 
descended from a notable family of postilions located in a 
country rich in folklore and semi-historical traditions, and 
who had supplemented her orally acquired knowledge by a 
somewhat extensive course of reading during a tedious and 
disabling illness ; and on the other hand, opposite the 
Infirmary, lived the Pere Mignot — a mine of tales of all 
sorts, and who was ever willing to spend long hours reading 
Don Quixote to the handsome dreamy son of his neighbour, 
the loved, the respected, the dreaded Pere Flaubert. 

Thus the small boy early acquired the habit of listening, 
and of listening with discrimination, though in all the 
practical concerns of life he was of a simplicity almost 
incomprehensible. The same child who could perceive the 
absurdities of the conversation of his father's friends, and 
propose at the age of nine to turn them to literary uses, was 
easily taken in by the simplest trick. ' Go and see if I am 
in the kitchen,"* an old servant would say, who found his 



1^ 



6 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

company inconvenient ; and the cliild would gravely march 
to the kitchen and repeat, to the mystification of the cook, 
' Peter sent me to see if he is here/ 

It used to be, and still is to some extent, the custom in 
France to send the sons of well-to-do parents to boarding- 
schools, which are often situated in the towns in which the 
parents reside. On Thursday afternoons, and from Saturday 
to Monday morning, the boys returned to their parents ; 
otherwise they lived in the cloistered seclusion of the college, 
subject to a discipline inflexible and military in its nature, 
performing regular exercise at regular hours, solemnly 
marching from class-room to class-room, watched both during 
lessons and the short periods of recreation by an inferior class 
of ushers, who had nothing to do with teaching beyond main- 
taining order during the lessons of the professors. This 
system, by rendering morality a mere question of discipline, 
enforced by a despised, and not unfrequently contemptible 
spy, almost necessarily alienated the sympathy of all noble- 
minded boys. To it young Gustave was submitted a little 
before he was nine years old, having rapidly, in the presence 
of necessity, surmounted the reading difficulty, and for nearly 
ten years he remained under its, to him, unbearably irritating 
influence. 

During this time Ernest Chevalier continued to be his 
most intimate friend ; but there were others also : Alfred le 
Poittevin, whose sister was afterwards the mother of Guy de 
Maupassant ; Louis Bouilhet, the poet ; Ernest le Marie, and 
others, were members with Flaubert of a small circle of 
romantic youths, who mutually excited one another into a 
condition of literary exaltation which, in one or two cases, 
passed beyond the limits of mere romantic imagining. One 
of them hung himself. From the morbid excesses of his 
companions Flaubert was protected by the healthy home- 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 7 

life which he enjoyed whenever opportunity offered. His 
taste for literature was indirectly encouraged by his parents, 
who allowed the children and their friends to make a stage 
of the billiard table, and declaim tragedies and comedies 
from that elevation to an audience such as the household 
could supply, with the addition of one or two sympathetic 
friends. Caroline Flaubert took charge of the dresses ; the 
mother's wardrobe was ransacked for cast-ofF clothes ; and 
programmes were boldly issued, whose comprehensiveness 
would have caused the company of the Theatre Fran(|^is 
some misgiving. 

Ernest Chevalier received the following letter in April 
1832, the writer was not yet eleven years old : — 

' Victory Victory Victory Victory Victory you will come one 
of these days my friend, the theatre, the bills, everything is 
ready. When you come, Amadeus, Edmund, Mme. Chevalier, 
mother, two servants and perhaps some boys will come to see 
us play, we shall give four pieces, which you do not know, but 
you will soon have learned them. The tickets for the first, 
second and third rows are ready, there will be stalls, there will 
also be drops, scenery. The curtain is arranged, perhaps there 
will be ten or twelve people. Then we must have spirit and 
not be afraid, there will be a sentry at the door, who will be 
little Lerond, and his sister will be a ballet-dancer. I do not 
know if you have seen Parcognac we shall play it, with a 
piece by Berquin, another by Scribe, and a dramatised proverb 
by Marmontel, it is useless for me to tell you their titles, you 
do not know them I think, if you knew it, when I was told, 
that you were not coming I was in a horrible rage. If by 
chance you were not to ct me, I would sooner go on all fours 
like the dogs of King Louis Philippe (taken from the Journal of 
Caricatures,) to Andelys to look for you, and I think you would 
do as much, for a love, so to say, brotherly unites us. Yes, I 
who have sentiment I would go a thousand leagues, if it were 
necessary, to meet the best of my friends, for nothing is so sweet 
as friendship, oh sweet friendship ! how much has been seen to 



8 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

be done by this sentiment! without that tie how should we 
live ? One sees this sentiment even in the smallest animals, 
without friendship how would the feeble live ? How would 
women and children find subsistence ? Permit me, my dear 
friend, these gentle reflections, but I swear to you that they 
are not made up, and that I have not tried to make rhetoric, 
but I speak to you with the truth of a true friend. The cholera 
morbus is hardly yet at the Infirmary. Your father is going on 
the same. Come to Rouen. Farewell.' 

In this letter, again, in spite of the precocity of the 
thought, there are fearful struggles with the spelling, and 
the writer does not ' stand upon his points." The imagina- 
tive faculty was far in advance of the mechanical powers ; 
even before this, when the small boy was still unable to 
read, he would improvise scenes and dialogues, in which he 
himself took all the parts, after sitting dreaming for a long 
time, like any other child, with his thumb in his mouth. 

Passionate friendship continued to be a ruling sentiment 
with Flaubert. Old friends were never forgotten ; but as they 
fell out of his life, others stepped into the vacant place, 
without, however, disturbing the strength of the old attach- 
ment. In his boyhood his friends were generally older than 
himself : Ernest Chevalier was two or three years his senior ; 
Alfred le Poittevin, whom he adored, and whose early death 
he never ceased to speak of as leaving an unfilled void in 
his life, was six years older. In the last years, when all had 
left him, he found in the affection of young Guy de Mau- 
passant, something of the same happiness ; two months 
before his death, he wrote : — 

' My young man, you are right to love me, for your old fellow 
is very fond of you, I at once read your volume, three 
parts of which, for that matter, I already knew. We will go 
over it again together. . . . Your dedication has stirred a 
world of reminiscences in me, — your uncle Alfred, — your grand- 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 9 

mother, — your mother, — and the old chap had for some 
moments a swelling heart and a tear in his eyelids.' 

From the beginning, Flaubert's friendships were founded 
on literary sympathy : his heart was always open to a man, 
or woman, who would talk books with him. Meanwhile, 
there was nothing of the pale student about him ; in body, 
as well as in intellect, he developed harmoniously as well as 
rapidly, and eventually grew to be looked on as a giant. 

During his boyhood the family used to spend the summer 
holidays at Trouville, then a small fishing village ; and here 
they made the acquaintance of the family of Admiral Collier, 
whose eldest daughter, afterwards Mrs. Tennant, thus writes 
of him : — 

* Gustave Flaubert was then like a young Greek. In the 
flower of his youth, he was tall and slender, supple and grace- 
ful as an athlete, unconscious of the gifts which he possessed 
morally and physically, caring little for the impression that 
he produced, and entirely indifferent to accepted forms. 
His dress consisted of a red flannel shii-t, rough blue cloth 
trousers, a scarf of the same colour tightly bound around his 
waist, and a hat placed anyhow on his head, which was as often 
as not bare. When I used to speak to him of celebrity, or 
influence to be exercised, as things desirable, and which I 
should value, he used to listen, smile, and seem superbly 
indifferent. He admired what was beautiful in nature, art and 
literature, and would live for that, he used to say, without any 
consideration of advantage. He never gave a thought to 
ambition or gain. Was it not sufi cient for a thing to be true 
and beautiful ? His great delight was to find something that 
he judged worthy of admiration. The charm of his society was 
in his enthusiasm for all that was noble, and the charm of his 
mind in an intense individuality. He hated all hypocrisy. 
What was wanting in his nature, was interest in external things, 
in useful things. If some one happened to say, that religion, 
politics, business, had as great an interest as literature and art, 
he opened his eyes with amazement and compassion. To be a 



10 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

man of letters, an artist, that alone made it worth his while to 
live.' 

This sentiment had already been strongly expressed in a 
letter written in his thirteenth year, wherein after telling his 
friend that he was occupied in writing a romance, of which 
Isabella of Bavaria was the heroine, he said : — 

' You think that I feel your absence, yes, you are right, and 
if I had not a Queen of France of the fifteenth century in my 
head and at the end of my pen, I should be completely sick of 
life, and long ago a bullet would have delivered me from this 
comic farce that is called life.' 

Strong expressions of this kind need not be taken too 
seriously on the lips of a boy of thirteen ; but as a similar 
strain continued through the letters written in the next 
eight years, and as the feeling involved was not peculiar to 
Flaubert, there is some reason for inquiring into the external 
conditions which produced this violence of sentiment in the 
boys of France during Flaubert's youth. 

It was the period of the literary revolution ; of the rise of 
Romanticism. In Paris at this time a school broke out into 
open mutiny on the question of a disrespectful criticism of 
Victor Hugo by a master. This, and other schoolboy 
excesses, were simply the natural reaction from unwise 
repression. 

Of all people, the French least understand liberty. What- 
ever the outward form of government in France, the majority 
always assumes to itself to prescribe for the minority, not 
only what it shall do, but what it shall think, and pushes 
this claim to its extreme logical conclusion. The possible 
power of fiction in moulding the national mind to acquies- 
cence in a particular form of government, and especially its 
influence upon the young, was divined by the statesmen of 
Louis XIV., whose imitator, Napoleon i., also wished the State 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 11 

to control what the young should read. In spite of the 
Revolution, the French schools, the schools in which the 
directing classes were educated, steadily repressed freedom of 
thought, and inculcated adherence to the stately forms of 
the classic models. The Academy flung itself on its knees 
before Charles x,, and petitioned that no work of the 
Romantic School should be allowed to be performed on the 
stage. If a boy was discovered to be reading Victor Hugo, 
the horror of his teachers — their unaffected horror — was only 
to be compared with the state of mind of an English 
Evangelical family, whose younger members might be 
detected poring over the works of Miss Braddon on a 
Sabbath afternoon. Church and State were alike felt to 
be in danger ; at the same time there was a genuine artistic 
distaste for literature, which seemed to defy all preconceived 
standards, and to combine a chaos of formlessness with an 
equally chaotic morality. To declaim the stately Alex- 
andrines of Racine and Corneille, imitate the honoured 
prose of Fenelon, accept Moliere as light reading, was 
allowed to the French youth ; but outside the circle of 
accepted authors, of the word-mongers, who never called 
anything by its right name, and saw the world not at first 
hand, but in a kind of camera-obscura, whose images were 
reflected from figures no longer existent, French boys were 
not supposed to read anything ; and one of the most hateful 
and hated duties of the unfortunate ushers was the unre- 
mitting search for smuggled volumes. English people have 
not been exempt, especially in certain religious connections, 
from the same suspicion of literature. Head-masters of 
schools controlled by the Society of Friends have been known 
to warn their departing pupils, in bidding them farewell, 
on no account to read the pernicious works of one William 
Shakespeare ; but in England there has never prevailed the 



12 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

same universal blockade against certain schools of literature, 
that was, and perhaps still is, one of the most marked 
features of French education. To the majority of boys 
such a matter is of small importance : they have no inclina- 
tion to read, and feel no indignation at being deprived of 
the privilege. All reading is lessons with them ; and as, 
from their point of view, no boy in his senses would read a 
book for himself, it would make little difference to them 
whether the work interdicted were Marmontel or Chateau- 
briand ; Byron, or the Rasselas of Dr. Johnson. On the boys 
gifted with the literary temperament, on the other hand, the 
restrictions produced a sense of grievance, which lasted so 
long as life lasted ; it seemed to them that all authority was 
banded together in enmity against what they felt to be the 
best thing in life ; that certain books alone were permitted ; 
inclined them to believe that other books alone Avere worth 
reading ; and the result was, that they not only rebelled 
openly against, or despised their teachers, but, in all kinds of 
clandestine ways, prematurely studied works to measure 
whose true value and true meaning they had not had the 
necessary experience of life. Before he was seventeen, 
Flaubert was reading Victor Hugo, Byron, Shakespeare, 
Rabelais, Montaigne, and early acquired the conviction that 
there was no such thing as indecency in true literature. For 
a while, the literature of the schoolmasters seemed to him not 
to be literature at all. English schools of the same period 
do not seem to have bothered themselves with English 
literature in any form. We see in Thackeray traces of a 
revolt against literary despotism, but it is against the 
despotism of Latin and Greek ; he had no need to be 
indignant that G. P. R. James and Walter Scott were with- 
held from him, and that Addison's Cato was forced upon 
him. There are some advantages in belonging to a nation 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 13 

which only intermittently takes literature seriously. Flaubert 
and his schoolfellows were cut off from the advantage of 
discussing, with men of mature experience, the questions 
which most interested them, the authors they liked best ; 
consequently they were unable to analyse and estimate mere 
rhetoric, the cynicism of disappointment ; they did not 
know that the poet sings, like the linnet, ' because he must ' ; 
that the mood which produces Lara, is compatible with a 
great deal of dining out ; and that that despairing poetess, 
Miss Bunion, ' ate a mutton chop for breakfast every morning 
of her blighted existence/ 

On August the fourteenth 1835, Flaubert being now 
thirteen years and seven months old, wrote to Ernest 
Chevalier : — 

' I see with indignation that the censorship of the stage is to 
be established again, and the liberty of the Press abolished. 
Yes, — this law will pass, for the representatives of the people 
are nothing but a foul heap of mercenai'ies. Their aim is self- 
interest, turpitude is their hobby, a brute pride their honour, 
their soul a mud heap ; but one day, a day that will soon come, 
the people will begin the third revolution ; then take care of 
your head, look out for rivers of blood. It is of his conscience 
that the man of letters is now being robbed, of his artist's 
conscience. Yes, — our age is fertile in sudden and bloody 
changes. Fare thee well, — and as for us, let us concern 
ourselves always with art, with art, that is greater than peoples, 
than crowns and kings, always there, floating on Enthusiasm 
with her heavenly diadem.' 

Strip this letter of its boyish rhetoric and you have 
Flaubert's life; from the determination here expressed he 
never deviated. 

In a letter written two years afterwards, a passage occurs 
in a different vein, very characteristic of his later life : — 

'Old Langlois and Orlowski dined at our house yesterday, 
and they made a pretty good thing of it, drinking, stuffing. 



14 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

ranting. Achille, myself and Bizet are invited for Sunday to go 
and fuddle oui'selves, smoke and listen to music at Orlowskis'. 
All the Polish refugees will be there. There are thirty of 
them. It is a national festival ; every Easter Sunday they 
have a similar feast in the house of one of them. They eat 
sausages, black puddings, hard boiled eggs, pig's flesh, and no 
one is permitted to go out till he has been drunk and has 
spewed, five or six times.' 

The same letter concludes with violent jubilation over the 
detection of one of the hated ushers in compromising circum- 
stances, whom he credits with having 'a dirty shirt, dirty 
stockings, and a dirty soul.' 

In April 1874, Flaubert published a volume called The 
Temptation of St. Antliony — a sort of prose poem, in 
which humanity, represented by the saint, is assailed by all 
the forms of religion and erratic imaginations possible to 
mankind in the fourth century a.d. The book had been 
\vi-itten three times ; the first manuscript was destroyed, under 
circumstances hereafter to be described, in 1849; the second 
at the time when Flaubert abandoned his house to the 
Prussians billeted upon him in 1870. In 1839 we find the 
germ of this book, to which he has already alluded in 
December 1838 :— 

' I am hardly reading at all now, I have again taken up a 
piece of work long laid aside, a mystery, a hash, of which, I 
think, I have already spoken to you. Here it is in two words. 
Satan leads a man, (Smar,) into infinite space, they both rise in 
the air to an immeasurable distance. Then Smar, to whom so 
much is disclosed, is filled with pride. He believes that all 
the mysteries of creation and infinity are revealed to him; 
but Satan leads him still higher. Then he is frightened, 
he trembles, this vast abyss seems to devour him, in the void 
he is feeble. They descend again to earth. There is his own 
soil, he says, that it is to live there that he was created, and 
everything in nature is subjected to him. Then a storm rises ; 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 15 

the sea threatens to swallow him up. He again admits his 
weakness^ his nothingness. Satan proceeds to take him 
amongst mankind. First the savage sings of his happiness, 
his wandering life, but all of a sudden, a desire to depart to 
the city seizes him, he cannot resist it, he goes. There you 
have the barbarous races, who become civilised. Secondly 
they come to the town, to the king racked with pain, a prey 
to the seven deadly sins, to the poor, to the married, into the 
church, which is deserted. All parts of the building take up 
their voice to bewail this, from the vault of the nave to the 
flag-stones, all speak and curse God. Then the church having 
become blasphemous, falls. In all this there is a personage, 
who takes part in all the events, and turns them to farce. He 
is Yuk the god of the grotesque. Thus in the first scene, 
while Satan was corrupting Smar through his pride, Yuk was 
pledging a married woman to surrender herself to the first- 
comer, without distinction. It is laughter beside tears and 
agonies ; filth beside blood. At last, Smar is disgusted with 
the world, he would like the whole thing done with ; but 
Satan on the conti-ary, goes on to make him experience all the 
passions, and all the wretchedness that he has seen. He bears 
him on winged horses to the banks of the Ganges. There, 
monstrous and fantastic orgies, debauchery such as I can 
imagine it, but debaucheiy wearies him. Again after this 
he experiences ambition. He becomes poet ; after his vanished 
illusions his despair becomes immense ; the cause of heaven is 
like to be lost. Smar has not yet experienced love. Then a 
woman appears ... a woman ... he loves her, he has become 
beautiful again, but Satan falls in love with her also. They 
each try to seduce her for themselves. Who will have the 
victory ? Satan you think ? No ! Yuk the grotesque. This 
woman is Truth, and the whole thing ends in a monstrous 
union.' 

Reminiscences oi Faust are obvious enough in this strange 
rigmarole, written by a boy of eighteen, but the position 
of the god of the grotesque is individual, and Flauberfs 
own. Under another form Yuk appears in the published 
St. Anthony; he attends on the debaucheries and death-bed of 



16 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

Madame Bovary ; he waits on the footsteps of all the 
characters in the Sentimental Education ; we catch glimpses 
of him in Salammho. He is in the last line of the Herodias ; 
in more than one passage of the St. Julian ; slightly shocks 
us in the Story of a Simple Soid ; and is the moving spirit, 
the life and breath, of Bouva?'d and Ptcuchef. 

About this period, Ernest Chevalier had left school and 
gone to Paris to read law, where he was not particularly 
happy. Flaubert, in reply to some of his wailings, wrote 
the following edifying letter under the nose of the 'Sieur 
Amyot,"* who was lecturing on the theory of eclipses, to an 
apparently unsympathetic audience : — 

' And you too ! Why ! I credited you with more common 
sense than myself, dear friend, do you too squall and sob ? 
What ? Good heavens ! what is the matter, pray, with you ? 
Know you that the young generation of students is superbly 
stupid ; formerly it had more go ; it amused itself with women, 
sword thrusts, orgies ; now it drapes itself after Byron, dreams 
of despair, and padlocks its heart to its own content. It is, 
who shall look the palest, and say the loudest, " I am surfeited, 
palled ! " How sad ! surfeited at eighteen ! Is there no more 
love, no more glory, no more work ! Is that all burned out } 
No more nature ? No more flowers for the young man ? No, 
— let us leave all that ! Let us do our sadness in art, since 
we feel the more strongly in that direction, but in life let us 
do our merriment, let the cork fly, let the pipe be filled, let 
the wench disrobe ! damn it all ! and if one evening in the 
twilight during an hour of fog and snow, we have the spleen, 
let it come, but not often ; one must scrape one's heart from 
time to time with a bit of suffering to get the whole scab off" it. 
There ! That is what I advise you to do, and what I myself 
struggle to put in practice.' 

So much for Sieur Amyot and his theory of eclipses. 
Among the absurdities collected by Flaubert for the second, 
never finished, part of Bouvard et Pecuchet, is the following 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 17 

statement of Monseigneur Dupanloup occurring in a treatise 
on education : ' The study of Mathematics by repressing 
sentiment and imagination, sometimes renders the explosion 
of the passions terrible.' Most of Flaubert's letters at this 
period were written during mathematical lessons, and tend 
to confirm the dictum of the Archbishop ; these studies 
certainly convinced him temporarily of the futility of his 
existence : — 

' O what a lot of money I would give to be either more 
stupid or less intellectual ! Atheist or mystic ! but at any 
rate something complete and whole, an identity, in a word 
something.' 

These words seem to have been suggested by a disquisi- 
tion on square roots. 

At Easter 1840 he spent the usual holiday at Les Andelys, 
and on his return wrote as follows : — 

' It is thus that I am made, happy days always give me a 
thousand sad ones, joy that is passed depresses me ; holiday 
days for me have always dismal morrows. 

' I really felt while returning to Rouen that something of my 
happiness was departing ; the sum of felicity apportioned to each 
of us is small, and when we have spent a little bit of it, we are 
altogether gloomy. I was sitting on the outside of the coach 
in silence, my face to the wind, rocked by the swing of the 
gallop. I felt the road fly under me, and with it all the years 
of my youth, I thought of all my other expeditions to les 
Andelys, I plunged myself up to the neck in all these 
memories, I compared them vaguely to the smoke of my pipe 
which was flying away, leaving the air all perfumed behind it. 
As I approached Rouen, I began to feel the life of fact, the 
present ; they began to take hold of me, and with them the 
work of every day, the life of detail, the working table, the 
accursed hours, the cavern in which my thought struggles and 
fights to death. Yes, — there are days, like yesterday, for 
instance, when one is sad, when one's heart is big with tears, 
when one loathes oneself, and could devour one's own heart for 



18 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

rage. What one should do, is, not think of the past^ not say 
td one's self: "there must still be sunshine there, it is seventy 
two hours since I was in such a place, I still see the shadow of 
my head on the highroad, flying after the horses, and a thousand 
other follies " ; one must look at the future, stretch out one's 
neck to see the horizon, fling one's self forward, put down 
one's head, and on quickly, without listening to the wailing 
voice of tender memories, which would fain call one back 
to the valley of everlasting sorrow. One must not look into 
the abyss, for in its depths there is an inexpressible charm that 
draws us down.' 



CHAPTER II 

THE LAW STUDENT CORRESPONDENCE WITH HIS SISTER 

In the summer of 1839 Flaubert finally left school, and, 
after a short journey in the South of France and Corsica 
with Dr. Jules Cloquet, a friend of his father''s, went to 
Paris, like his friend Chevalier, to study law. From this 
time, till his return home four years later, his chief corres- 
pondent was his sister ; and in these letters we get a glimpse 
of the home life, and of the vigorous, active, outward person- 
ality of the lad whose thoughts were often so sombre. The 
Flaubert family continued their love of acting long after 
their childhood, and though they do not seem to have con- 
tinued performances on the stage, they were in the habit of 
assuming the parts of sundry fictitious characters for one 
another''s amusement ; one of Gustave''s chief roles was that 
of the 'gar^on,"* a personage whose characteristics are not 
otherwise indicated. We know of him that he had a marked 
laugh, which we may assume to have been inane, loud and 
fatuous, and that Gustave once discovered an epitaph for 
him : * Here lies one given to all the vices."* On the whole, 
he does not seem to have been an estimable character, and 
perhaps the less we know of him the better. This vein of 
buffoonery remained with Flaubert all his life ; he would do 
anything to amuse his friends ; anything to make the people 
that he liked laugh heartily. Even in his correspondence he 

19 



20 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

occasionally poses in a character not his own ; and late in 
life wrote a sham autobiography, for George Sand, of the 
Rev. Father Cruchard, whose character, he professed, was 
his own. 

The study of law was not congenial to Flaubert ; he took 
it up in obedience to the wishes of his father, a practical 
man, who saw no future in literature, and seems to have 
classed literary men with the sword-thrusters and ballet- 
dancers, whom Moliere''s teacher of philosophy so profoundly 
despised. 

Maxime Ducamp thus describes the first apparition of 
Flaubert upon him during these days of reading law ; he 
was living in rooms with Ernest le Marie, a former college 
friend of Flauberfs at Rouen : — 

'One day in March, 1843, while le Marie was hammering 
out Beethoven's funeral march on the piano, and I was slinging 
rhymes, we heard a peal of the bell, violent, imperious, the 
ring of a master. I saw a tall fellow come in, with a long fair 
beard, and his hat over his ear. Gustave Flaubert was then 
twenty-one years old. He was of heroic beauty. With his 
white skin slightly flushed upon the cheeks, his long fine 
floating hair, his tall broad-shouldered figure, his abundant 
golden beard, his enormous eyes — the colour of the green of 
the sea — veiled under black eyelashes, with his voice as 
sonorous as the blast of a trumpet, his exaggerated gestures, 
and resounding laugh ; he was like those young Gallic chiefs 
who fought against the Roman armies.' 

Meanwhile this overpowering giant was writing to the 

little sister at home. 

'May 16, 1841. 

'Thank you heartily, good mouse, for the letter that you 
sent me yesterday ; it was dainty and clever, like yourself, full 
of flashes of wit, which I have learned by heart, and which I 
mean to pass on as my own on the first opportunity. . . . 

' Keep a brave heart, dear old mouse, for next Saturday ! 
Come up now ! Assurance ! Thunder and lightning ! There 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 21 

we are — one two — one two — not too quick — close the shakes, 
brrr the Httle runs, don't let us lose our head ! 

' Since you are doing geometry and trigonometry, I will give 
you a problem : A ship is on the sea, it left Boston laden with 
cotton, it is of 200 tons burden, it sails towards Havre, the 
mainmast is broken, there is a cabin boy on the fore-peak, the 
passengers are twelve in number, the wind blows N.E.E., the 
chronometer reads a quarter past three in the afternoon, the 
month is May. Required — the Captain's age.' 

'July, 1841. 

'The holidays are approaching. I warn you both, however, 
of one thing, you and mamma ; during the stay that I am 
going to make at Rouen, you must be agreeable, you must have 
pleasant faces ; the same remark may be addressed to Mistress 
Fargues. Suffer as much as you like, in the back, in the head ; 
have chilblains, rashes, what not ! but act so as to make the 
house comfortable to me. However you behave, I shall always 
be happier there than here. 

' I breathe a little more now, and consider my job nearly 
done. I am merry, jocose, I burn to climb on to the coach, I 
see myself arriving at Rouen on Tuesday morning, ascending 
the stairs at a run, bawling, and kissing you. 

' From time to time I give vent to peals of laughter in the 
style of the " gar9on " to amuse myself, and I do Father 
Couillere as I look at myself in the glass.' 

'March 1842. 
' Dialogue which took place an hour ago. 
' Personages : Myself. — My Bedmaker. 

' (I hear a noise). 

' Bedmaker (Jrom the hmding). — It is me, sir ; don't disturb 
yourself. (Enter Bedmaker.) I am bringing you some matches, 
sir, for you want them. 

' Myself. — Yes. 

' Bedmaker. — The gentleman burns a good many of them. 
He works so much. Ah, how he works ! I could not do as 
much, I who speak to you. 

' Myself. — Yes. 

' Bedmaker. — The gentleman is soon a-going ! You are right. 

' Myself. — Yes. 



22 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

' Bedmaker. — That will do you a world of good just to take 
the air a little ; for since you have been here^ I am sure, I am 
sure . . . 

' Myself {pointedly). — Yes. 

' Bedmaker (raising her voice). — Your parents ought to be 
pleased to have a son like you. (This is her fixed idea, she has 
already told Hamard so.) 

' Myself. — Yes. 

'Bedmaker. — The fact is, you see, nothing pleases parents 
more than to see their children work well. Ah well ! When 
I see Alphonsine at work, there 's nothing pleases me so much 
as that. Just you work well, you work well, that is what I say 
to her every day, naughty idle girl ! You like to stay like that 
doing nothing ! But I must be telling you, she is a little 
delicate, my poor Alphonsine. Yes, she has a little gathering 
just now, that keeps her from sewing. She is not so bad as I 
am — no — no. Ah yes, when I was young, I had finer features 
than she has; ah yes, see you, she has not as fine features 
as I have ; that is what I say to her every day : Alphonsine, 
you have not as fine features as I have. But you, sir, it is not 
that way with you, it is the head that works, it is memory that 
you want. Yes, certainly, yes, you will need to take the air." 

' She was still speaking, long after 1 had ceased to listen. 

* Ah mouse, good mouse, dear old mouse ! take care to have 
good strong cheeks for next week, for I simply long to kiss 
them for you. I will give myself a regular bout. Yes, when 
1 think of it, I shall certainly not be able to keep from hurting 
you.' 

While enjoying the holiday looked forward to in the last 
letter, Flaubert again replied to a jeremiad from Ernest 
Chevalier, who had remained in Paris : — 

' What ! old scamp ! to what a condition " a man like you " is 
reduced ! Take it easy, my fine fellow, take it easy ! Instead 
of reading so much law do a little philosophy, read Rabelais, 
Montaigne, Horace, or some other old chap, who has seen 
life under a less stormy sky, and learn once for all, that you 
must not ask apple-trees for oranges, France for sunshine, 
women for love, life for happiness. Up with you ! think of 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 23 

soup, of meat, of pdies de foie gras, of Chambertin. How can 
you complain of life, when there are still beds wherein a man 
may console himself with love, and a bottle of wine to lose his 
senses withal ! Pluck up your courage, confound it ! take to a 
severe course of life, play larks at night, break the gas lamps, 
have rows with cabmen, smoke like a chimney, go to cafes, 
bolt without paying, smash in hats, belch in peoples' faces, 
disperse your melancholy, and thank Providence. For the 
century in which you were born is a happy century, railways 
furrow the fields, there are bituminous clouds, and rains of 
coal, asphalt-paths, and wooden pavements, penitentiaries for 
young felons, and savings' -banks for thrifty domestics who go 
there incontinent to deposit, what they have stolen from their 
masters. M. Hebert is public prosecutor, and bishops issue 
pastorals, whores go to mass, kept women talk at least of 
morals, and the government defends religion; the unfortunate 
Theophile Gautier is accused of immorality by M. Faure, authors 
are put in prison, and pamphleteers are paid. But the funniest 
thing of all is the Executive protecting sound morals and repel- 
ling outrages upon orthodox views. Human justice is indeed 
to me the most farcical thing in the world ; one man judging 
another is a sight, which would make me die of laughing, if it 
did not stir my compassion, and if I were not at present being 
compelled to study the string of absurdities, in virtue of which 
he is a judge. I can see nothing more stupid than jurispru- 
dence, if it is not the study of jurisprudence ; I work at it with 
profound disgust, and that deprives me of all heart, and spirit 
for any thing else. I am even beginning to get a little 
anxious about ray examination, but only a little, and I won't 
disturb my spleen any the more for that. Here is the summer 
coming back, that is all that I want, may the Seine be warm 
for me to bathe in ! the scent of the flowers be good ! the 
shadows of the trees deep ! 

' Do you know the epitaph of Henri Heine ? Here it is : " He 
loved the roses of Brenta." That might well be mine. The 
" gar9on's epitaph " : " Here lies a man abandoned to all the 
vices." 

' Often I shrug my shoulders with pity, when I think of all 
the trouble that we give ourselves, all the anxiety which gnaws 



24 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

us, to be successful, to get ourselves a fortune and a name ; 
how empty all that is ! how pitiful ! To wear a black coat 
from morning to evening, to have boots, braces, gloves, books, 
opinions, push one's self, get one's self pushed, introduce one's 
self, do one's bow, and go one's way ! O Lord ! 

' Where is my Fontarabian shore, where the sand is golden, 
the sea blue, the houses black, birds sing among the ruins ? 
Again there are known to me paths in the snow, the air is 
keen, the wind wails in the hollows of the mountains. There 
the solitary shepherd whistles his wandering dogs, there he 
expands his bare chest and breathes at his ease, and the air is 
balmy with the perfume of larch. 

' Who will give me back the Mediterranean breezes, for on 
those shores the heart expands, the myrtles shed their scent, 
there is a murmuring of waves. Hurrah for sun, orange trees, 
palms, lotus, boats with streamers, cool pavilions paved with 
marble, where the wainscots breathe of love. Oh — if I had a 
tent made of reeds and bamboo on the banks of the Ganges, 
how would I listen all night to the ripple of the current in the 
rushes, to cooing birds perched on bright-stemmed trees ! 

' But, damn it all ! I say. Shall I ever walk with my own 
feet in the sands of Syria? Where the red horizon dazzles, 
where the earth rises in burning spirals, and eagles poise in 
the fiery sky ? Shall I never see the cities of the embalmed 
dead, where hyenas bark kennelled under the mummies of 
kings at the time when the evening comes, and the hour, when 
camels crouch by the wells. In those countries the stars are 
four times as big as ours, the sunshine scorches, women writhe 
and spring under kisses and embraces, they wear bracelets and 
rings of gold on their feet and hands, and robes of fine gauze. 

' Only sometimes, when the sun is setting, I imagine that I 
am arriving all of a sudden at Ai-les, twilight illumines the 
amphitheatre, and gilds the marble tombs of the Elis-campi ; 
and I begin my journey again, I go further, still further, like a 
leaf borne on the wind. 

' A reminiscence is a fine thing, it almost amounts to a 
regretted longing.* 

Among the many strange contrasts in Flaubert's character, 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 25 

his intimate friends noted the voluptuousness of his imagina- 
tion and the purity of his hfe. 

The noisy rioting of the student, which he describes in 
this letter, and humorously recommends to Ernest Chevalier, 
bored him infinitely. His pleasures were entirely literary. 
Endless discussions as to the merits of poets and playwriters, 
arguments on every possible subject, from the nature of the 
soul and immortality to the merits of a music-hall song, 
were the chief occupation of the small knot of students 
with whom he associated. He visited a few houses, especi- 
ally the studio of Pradier, the sculptor, which was a kind of 
Bohemian literary club, and spent many of his afternoons 
reading to the daughters of Admiral Collier, whose family 
were then living in Paris, 

Meanwhile, he continued to be horribly bored by the 
lectures on law. 

' If you think from reading my letters^ that I am not 
miserable, my poor mouse, you are as far out of it as you can 
be. ... If you had an idea of the hfe that I lead, you would 
imagine it without difficulty. Montaigne, my old Montaigne, 
said: "We must embeast ourselves to be wise." I am always 
so emheasted, that it may pass for wisdom, and even for virtue. 
Sometimes I long to go at my table with my fists, and make 
everything fly to smithereens, then, when the fit is over, I 
perceive by my clock, that I have lost half-an-hour in lamenta- 
tions, and I set myself to blacken paper, and turn over pages 
with more speed than ever.' 

Maxime Ducamp confirms this description of his methods 
of work where law was the subject. 

' How often have I seen him push away his Code Civile 
and say : " I don't understand a word of it, it \s raving- 
nonsense.''"' He then betook himself to the commentaries, 
and found that they were raving nonsense too."' 

' His method of working was hardly practical ; under the 



26 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

pretence of taking notes, he copied the books upon the 
subjects that he had to study ; now, he copied mechanically, 
thinking of something else ; the result was physical fatigue, 
and an accumulation of valueless papers."" 

In May 1842 the first railway from Paris to Rouen was 
opened. Flaubert alluded to the event as follows : — 

' Paris is no better favoured than Rouen in the matter of the 
railway, and if you are bored with hearing it talked about, you 
are just in the same plight as myself. It is impossible to go 
anywhere without hearing people say : " Ah, I am off to Rouen ! 
I come from Rouen ! Shall you go to Rouen ?" Never has 
the capital of Neustria made such a sensation at Lutetia 
Parisiorum. One is simply stewed in it.' 

The next month a long letter full of the horrors of law- 
lectures concluded as follows : — 

' When I think of all of you, anyhow, something good and 
gentle breathes fresh life into me, and cheers me ; a thousand 
tender happy suggestions come back to my heart, and I go 
from one to the other watching you all from here, as you move, 
speak with the tones of your own voices, get up and sit down 
in those clothes of yours, that I know. At this moment, for 
example, good mousey, I have your full gentle laugh in my 
ears : that laugh for which I would do myself to death in 
buffooneries, for which I would give my very last grimace, my 
last drop of saliva ; so much so, that sometimes alone in my 
room I pull faces at myself in the looking-glass, or utter the 
cry of the " gar9on " as if you were there to see me and admire 
me ; for I am very much bored by my present audience.' 

Meanwhile, to others Flaubert did not appear to be 
particularly miserable at Paris. ' His health,' says Maxinie 
Ducamp, ' which nothing had disturbed permitted him to 
endure fatigue with impunity ; in vain did ho spend the 
nights in working at law, of which ho mulorstood nothing 
whatever ; ran about the whole day, dined at a restaurant. 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 27 

went to the theatre, he continued none the less alert in his 
own sluggish way, mixing pleasure and study, playing 
ducks and drakes with his money, spending fifty francs 
on his dinner one day, living the next day on a crust of 
bread and a cake of chocolate, chanting prose, howling verse, 
going mad over a joke, which he repeated to the point of 
surfeit, filling everything with his noise, despising women 
whom his beauty attracted, coming to wake me up at three 
o'clock in the morning to look at an effect of moonlight on 
the Seine, in despair at not being able to find good Pont 
L'Eveque cheese at Paris, inventing sauces to suit brill, and 
wishing to slap the face of Gustave Planche, who had spoken 
ill of Victor Hugo.'' 

Meanwhile, the silent anxious mother at home was begin- 
ning to have misgivings as to the possible result of the 
examination ; and, mother-like, was proceeding to take highly 
irregular steps in the hope of softening the heart of an 
examiner. Her son did not sympathise with her efforts in 
this direction : — 

' I entreat mother not to pledge M. Getillat to make interest 
on my behalf with gentlemen, who may be of his acquaintance. 
I should be very much humiliated by it, and all these tricks are 
not in my line. To get oneself recommended by one's friends 
is bad enough, but by ladies ! it is a little low, a little too 
strong for me. Besides " men like me " are not made to be 
ploughed. I try to get up my cheek and do the swell, none 
the less I am not over-confident. Can this possibly be an 
excess of modesty ? 

' Friend Hamard (he afterwards married Caroline Flaubert, 
and was the father of Madame Commanville) has just spent 
twenty-four hours in prison for having refused to go on guard. 
I went to see him. He was rotting on the damp straw of the 
dungeons, and was studying the laws in that abode, where 
those are confined who break them.' 

Ernest Chevalier seems also to have been concerned at the 



28 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

possible outcome of Flauberfs methods of pursuing the 
study of jurisprudence, and got his answer as follows : — 

' Do I long to be successful, I, to be a great man ? a man 
known in a district, in a department, in three provinces, a thin 
man, a man with a weak digestion ? Have I ambition, like 
shoe-blacks, who aspire to be boot-makers, drivers to be stud- 
grooms, footmen to play the master, your man of ambition to 
be a deputy or a minister, to wear a ribbon, be a town 
councillor ? All that seems to me very dismal, and attracts 
me as little as a fourpenny dinner or a humanitarian lecture. 
But it is after all everybody's mania; and were it only to be 
singular, not from good taste, for the sake of good breeding, 
not from inclination, it is a good thing now to remain among 
the crowd, and leave all that to the scum, who are forever 
pushing themselves and swarm in every street. As for us, let 
us stay at home, let us watch the public pass from the height 
of our balcony ; and if from time to time we are over-bored, 
well, let us spit on their heads, and then calmly continue our 
talk, and watch the sun setting in the west.' 

In November 1842 the student of law was seized with a 
fit of economy. 

' I have made a contract with a purveyor in the neighbour- 
hood to be fed ; I have in front of me thirty dinners duly paid 
for, if dinners they can be called. Mother will perhaps be 
surprised at my economical notion ; it is not epicurean ; but 
convenient and cheap. In the matter of rapid eating I surpass 
all the customers of the establishment. I affect a preoccupied 
style there, at once dark and careless, which makes me laugh 
prodigiously when I am alone in the street. The proprietor is 
full of respect for me, my tall stature has prejudiced him in 
favour of my stomach. You ask me if I have an arm chair ; my 
sitting apparatus consists of only three chairs, and a kind of 
divan, which can serve at once as box, bed, library, and place 
to put my slippers away in. I think it might also be turned 
into a dog-kennel or stable for a pony. It is the bed which I 
destine for my parents, when they come to see me. I perceive 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 29 

that I have said something rude in the attempt to be witty and 
do the agreeable. 

* In all the comedies in the world sons invent a heap of 
humbug to bamboozle their fathers, and get money out of 
them ; I have no humbug to invent, but I do want some money 
(money, always money, this is the word they invariably have in 
their mouths). I have the sum of thirty-six francs and some 
centimes left. You will draw attention to the fact, that I have 
paid for my furniture, and I have further been obliged to buy a 
heap of things, shovels, tongs, wood to warm " a man like me," 
and that moreover I stayed eight days at a hotel, etc. Therefore, 
I beg father to tell me, where I can go and handle a bit of tin.' 

The simple youth, who wrote the above ingenuous lines, 
had not escaped notice in the capital. Through the connec- 
tion formed with Pradier he had been introduced to Victor 
Hugo, of whom he wrote in January 1843 : — 

' You are expecting details about Victor Hugo, what do you 
want me to say about him .'' He is a man like anybody else, 
with a fairly ugly face, and a fairly common exterior. He has 
splendid teeth, a fine forehead, no eyelashes nor eyebrows. He 
speaks little, has the air of watching himself, and wishing not 
to let anything escape from him ; he is very polished, and a 
little affected. I am very much pleased with the sound of his 
voice. I took pleasure in contemplating him at close quarters ; 
I looked at him with astonishment, as at a casket in which 
there might be millions, and crown diamonds, thinking of all 
that had come out of this man seated beside me on a low chair, 
fastening his eyes on his right hand, which has written so many 
fine things. This, however, was the man who has made my 
heart beat the most since I was born, and whom perhaps I 
loved the best of all those that I do not know. The talk was 
of punishments, vengeance, thieves, etc. etc. The great man 
and I did the most of the talking. I do not remember whether 
I said good things or bad ones, but I know I said plenty of 
them. As you see, I go fairly often to the Pradiers, it is a 
house that I like very much, where there is no ceremony, and 
which is altogether in my style.' 



30 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

Writing to Ernest Chevalier shortly afterwards, he draws 
the following amusing contrast between the life of the 
student of the Quartier Latin and that of the dandy on the 
fashionable south bank of the Seine : — 

' On the other side of the water there are young folks with 
twelve hundred pounds a year, who have their carriages ; the 
student goes on foot, or on the top of the omnibus, where his 
whole body is drenched, if not his feet, when it snows as it did 
to-day. The young folk over there go every evening to the 
Opera, to the Italians, they go to evening receptions, they 
smile at pretty women, who would have us turned out of doors 
by their hall-porters if we presumed to show ourselves in their 
houses with our shiny overcoats, our three-year-old costumes, 
and our elegant spats. Their everyday coats are our holiday 
and Sunday coats. They go to dine at the Rocher de Cancale 
and the Cafe de Paris ; the jolly student feeds himself for thirty 
half-pence, at Barilhaut ! They make love to marchionesses, or 
princes' mistresses ; the poor joker of a student loves shop-girls, 
who have chilblains on their hands, for the poor devil has his 
senses like another ; but not too often, like myself, for example, 
because it costs money ; and when he has paid his tailor, his 
boot-maker, his landlord, his book-seller, his Law School, his 
porter, his grocer, his eating-house, he has to buy boots, an 
overcoat, books, to pay his fees, his wages, buy his tobacco, and 
he has nothing left, his spirit is broken. Never mind, it is as 
amusing as anything else to study law at Paris. And as that 
is entirely my opinion, I am going to bed directly.' 

In August 1843 Flaubert presented himself before the 
examiners, and was rejected. A man, whose memory for 
the particular line in a page, in which a word occurred that 
had attracted his notice years before, was almost miraculous ; 
a man gifted with the true scholar^s memory, and who, in 
after years, was able by virtue of this gift to achieve work 
such as only one or two other men have attempted, could 
not bring to his aid even the mediocre standard of remini- 
scence necessary to pass an examination in a comparatively 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 31 

small number of books. He was absolutely paralysed in the 
presence of his examiners ; stumbled, stuttered, gave the 
wrong answers to the questions, and, in spite of their wish 
to help him, absolutely collapsed. He returned to Rouen, 
and the School of Law saw him not again. 



CHAPTER III 



ILLNESS MAXIME DUCAMP 



In the month of October, at about the time when he 
should have returned to Paris, Flaubert was seized with an 
hy.sterico-epileptic attack. The nature of this disease was 
even less well understood then, than it is now. Pere Flaubert 
accepted the conclusion, to which other eminent medical 
authorities had come, that epilepsy was due to a plethora 
of vitality ; and in the case of Gustave, the expansive noisy 
giant, there was every excuse for believing that this might 
be the case. He bled, starved, drenched his unfortunate 
son, with all the more vigour that his pride, both paternal 
and professional, was wounded by the calamity. In spite of 
the treatment Flaubert eventually shook off the disease ; a 
journey in Brittany with Maxime Ducamp in 1847 nearly 
cured him ; and another journey in the East with the same 
friend, 1849-1851, caused a complete suspension. The attacks 
did not return till the closing years of his life. 

Nevertheless the disease, and possibly the erroneous treat- 
ment, made a deep mark on the thread of his existence. 
From this time onwards, as he told George Sand, he ' was 
afraid of life."* The three years spent under the supervision 
of a medical attendant or a servant were years of misery to 
him. He did his best to overcome the depression and the 
weakness ; he experimented on himself in dealing with the 



32 



IJFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 33 

latter, and learned to control it, but the nightmare of the 
months of uncertainty was always there, and though the 
violent seizures passed into abeyance, a nervous irritability 
remained. Intellectually he was not affected by it ; epilepsy 
is not in all its forms a disease of the intellect. The first 
Caesar was an epileptic, so was the first Napoleon ; there is 
every reason for believing Socrates to have been epileptic ; 
most of us can reckon among our friends or acquaintance 
men or women of great personal charm, and brilliant 
faculties, who are epileptic ; for the disease has many 
manifestations, from an almost unnoticed and unnoticeable 
momentary suspension of consciousness, to the violent and 
sometimes protracted convulsions generally associated with 
the ' falling sickness.' At one time such persons were 
worshipped as possessing something of a mysterious divinity ; 
without going to this extreme, we may at least avoid the 
error of confounding one disease with another, and associat- 
ing epilepsy with a failure of intellect, as Maxime Ducamp 
has done. 

It is time to speak of this friend to whom Flaubert owed 
so much, and so little. His first meeting with P'laubert has 
already been described ; he at once fell a victim to the 
fascinations of the glorious giant, and lived in the closest 
intimacy with him for the remainder of the student days. 
While he worshipped and admired his friend's superb ability, 
he to some extent appropriated him, endeavoured to control 
him, and, with the best intentions in the world, to narrow 
him down to his own conception of what a literary man 
should be. All this unconsciously. He was unaware of his 
own limitations. We are reminded of him in a passage in 
the Ediwation Sentimentale, in which Flaubert, speaking of 
a less agreeable character, observes : ' There are some 
friends, who are never content unless they are forcing their 

c 



34 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

friends to do what is displeasing to them."' This apparently 
was the bias of Maxime Ducamp, and in later years it 
produced a breach between himself and Flaubert, which was 
only healed late in the life of the latter. On the other 
hand, his affection was perfect. On the first opportunity, he 
gave himself up to attending his friend in his illness ; he 
undertook the responsible and arduous task of travelling 
with him for three months in Brittany, when his health was 
by no means re-established ; and again gladly accepted the 
same responsibility, for nearly two years, when the East 
was the scene of their adventures, and for nine years there 
was no cloud upon their friendship. An adequate oppor- 
tunity of discussing his literary standpoint will be found 
later on. 

Li June 1844 Flaubert was able to write the following 
letter to Louis de Cormenin, one of the Paris band : — 

' How guilty I must seem to you, my dear Louis ! What can 
you make of a man who is ill half his time, who is so wearied 
the other half that he has neither the strength nor the intelli- 
gence to write even gentle easy things, like the letter that I 
should like to send you. Do you know weariness ? Not that 
common vulgar boredom which comes from idleness or ill-health, 
but that modern weariness which gnaws a man's entrails, and 
turns an intelligent being into a walking shadow, a thinking 
apparition. Ah ! I am sorry for you if that leprosy is known 
to you. Sometimes the sufferer thinks he is cured, but one fine 
day he wakes up suffering more than ever. You know those 
coloured glasses with which the summer-houses of retired 
hatters are adorned ! one sees the country in red, blue, and 
yellow through them. Weariness is the same. The most 
beautiful things seen through it take its colour and reflect its 
sadness. As for me, it is a malady of my youth which comes 
back on my evil days such as to-day. They can not say of me 
as of Pantagruel : ' and then he studied an evil half hour, but 
always had his mind in the kitchen.' It is in something worse 
that I have my mind : it is in the leeches that they put on me 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 35 

yesterday and that scratch my ears, it is in the pill that I have 
just swallowed, and which is still a-sailing in my stomach on the 
glass of water that followed it. 

' Do you know that we have no cause to be gay ? There is 
Maxim e gone ; his absence must weigh heavy upon you ; as for 
me, I have my nerves, which leave me little quiet. When shall 
we all meet again in Paris in good health, and good temper ? 
And yet what a fine thing it would be, a little club of good 
fellows, all sons of art, living together, and meeting once or 
twice a week to eat a good mouthful, washed down with good 
wine, and savouring some succulent poet the while ! I have 
often foi-med this dream : it is less ambitious than many others, 
but perhaps will not be realised any the more for that. I have 
just seen the sea, and have returned to my dull town ; that is 
why I am stupider than ever. The contemplation of beautiful 
things always makes one sad for a time. One would say that 
we are made to bear only a certain dose of beauty, a little more 
fatigues us. That is why mediocre natures prefer the prospect 
of a river to that of the ocean ; and why there are so many 
people who pronounce Beranger the first French poet. Do not 
let us, however^ confound the yawn of the . middle-class man in 
the presence of Homer with the deep meditation, the intense, 
almost painful, reverie which comes upon the poet's heart, when 
he measures the giants, and says to himself in his abasement : 
O Altitudo ! 

' For this reason I admire Nero : he is the culminating man of 
the ancient world. Woe be to him who does not shudder in 
reading Suetonius! I have recently read the life of Heliogabalus 
in Plutarch. That man has a beauty diffei-ent from that of Nero. 
He is more Asiatic, more delirious, more romantic, more aban- 
doned : it is the evening after the day, madness by torchlight, 
but Nero is calmer, finer, more ancient, more statuesque, in a 
word : superior. The masses have lost their poetry since 
Christianity. Don't speak to me of modern times in the 
matter of the grandiose. There is not wherewithal to satisfy 
the imagination of the lowest grade of journalist. 

' I am delighted to see that you join with me in hatred of 
Saint Beuve and all his shop. I love before everything the 
nervous, substantial, clear phrase with swelling muscle, gleaming 



36 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

skin ; I like masculine, not feminine, phrases, like those of 
Lamartine very often, and, in a still lower degree, those of 
Villemain. The men that I habitually read, my bedside books, 
are Montaigne, Rabelais, Regnier, La Bruyere and Le Sage. I 
admit that I adore Voltaire's prose, and that for me his stories 
have an excellent relish. I read Candide twenty times : I 
translated it into English, and I have read it over again from 
time to time. Now I am re-reading Tacitus. In a little time, 
when I am better, I shall take up my Homer and Shakespeare 
again. Homer and Shakespeare ! — everything is there ! the 
other poets, even the greatest, seem small beside them.' 

There are no more letters for nearly a year. Flauberfs 
melancholy for a time increased ; a boat was bought for 
him, but he soon ceased to use it, unable to submit himself 
to the presence of the servant who was ordered to accompany 
him. 

\\\ 1845, Caroline Flaubert married ; Gustave was in very 
much better health, and the whole family accompanied the 
young couple on their wedding trip. Lyons, Marseilles, 
Genoa, Milan, Geneva, were among the places visited. The 
journey brought small comfort to Gustave ; his father and 
he were not of the same opinion as to what things were 
interesting to see, and what was the most interesting way in 
which to see them. At Nice he forebore to visit the tomb 
of Desnoyers, because the step would have appeared comic ; 
he wanted to see Aigues Mortes, and other places, but did 
not do so, probably for the same reason. At Genoa, in the 
Palazzo Doria, however, he saw a })icture of the Temptation 
of St. Anthony by Breughel, which suggested the work on 
that subject foreshadowed in the Temptation of Smar. 



CHAPTER IV 

CROISSET DEATH THE MIDDLE-CLASS PERSON 

A YEAR before his death, at the beginning of 1845, Pere 
Flaubert bought a house at Croisset, the first village on the 
right bank of the Seine below Rouen. In this house his son 
was destined to spend nearly all his life, and to write all his 
best work. Those who have a taste for visiting Stratford- 
on-Avon ; who gape before beds in which Queen Elizabeth 
has slept ; who do not leave Florence without exploring a 
' certain dark narrow street, one of whose houses bears the 
inscription " Qui nacque il divhio poeta " ;' who sentimentally 
contemplate the towers of Galileo and Roger Bacon ; who 
fall on their knees at the gateway of Rydal Mount, and 
steep themselves in the silences of Grasmere churchyard out 
of the season ; those persons, in short, who have the passion 
for shrines, and the instincts of pilgrimage, will be outraged 
at learning that Croisset is no more, the house has been 
replaced by a factory, and of all that was associated with 
the life of Flaubert in that place, nothing remains but a 
magnificent tulip-tree, which stood in front of his windows. 
Flaubert himself was a devout worshipper at sacred places : 
Byron's prison at Chillon, Voltaire's bedroom at Ferney, the 
birthplace of Victor Hugo at Besan^on, Chateaubriand's 
castle and grave, the bed of Diane de Poitiers, are some of 
the altars at which he on different occasions paid his vows. 

37 



38 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

But, after all, the room in which a man was born, died, or 
even worked, does little to change our conception of hnn 
when that conception is based upon an understanding of his 
mind. Chalfont St. Giles is a pretty place, but when we 
have seen it. Paradise Lost is no less majestic ; even if we 
had the Globe Theatre preserved under a glass case, Hamlet 
would be no more and no less than Hamlet. Wordsworth 
never saw the plain slate grave-stone at Grasmere ; and how 
much of Shakespeare's life remains at Stratford more than in 
other quiet Midland towns ? To see what the poet has seen, 
to breathe the air that he breathed, to watch the stately 
ships move on as he saw them move, hear the laughter from 
the river as he heard it, to note with him the lamps gleaming 
upon the water and lending a deeper mystery to most 
mysterious night, — these are profitable experiences, and these 
may be felt, though a local cataclysm should swallow up 
Grasmere, with its lake, its church, and its churchyard, and 
palatial hotels, and though there is nothing left of the house 
at Croisset. 

The move to Croisset took place some time in 1845, and 
was soon followed by disaster. In January 1846, the gene- 
rous, capable, hard-headed, loving but unsympathetic father 
died ; and three months later Caroline Flaubert died also, 
after giving birth to a daughter. Gustave at once wrote to 
Maxime Ducamp from Rouen, where the family still had a 
house. Caroline Flaubert had married young Hamard, 
whom we last saw rotting on the straw of a dungeon. 

'Rouen, March 1846. 
' Hamard is leaving my room, where he stood sobbing at the 
corner of the chimney-piece ; my mother is a weeping statue. 
Caroline speaks, smiles, caresses us, says gentle affectionate 
words to all of us, she loses her memory, everything is con- 
fused in her head ; she did not know whether it was I or 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 39 

Achille who had gone to Paris. What gracefulness there is in 
the sick, and what strange gestui'es I The child feeds and 
cries. Achille says nothing, and knows not what to say. 
What a house ! What a hell ! And I } My eyes are as dry 
as marble. It is strange. Expansive, fluid, abundant, over- 
flowing as I feel myself in fictitious sorrow, real griefs stay in 
my heart, bitter and hard ; they crystallise there, as they come. 
It seems that Misfortune is upon us, and that she will not go, 
till she has glutted herself. Once again I am to see the black 
cloth, and hear the sordid sound of the nailed boots of the 
undertaker's men descending the stairs. I prefer to have no 
hope ; on the contrary to enter in that way into the woe that is 
impending. Marjolin arrives this evening; what will he do.'' 
Farewell. I had a presentiment yesterday, that, when I saw 
you again, I should not be gay.' 

' Croisset, March 1846. 

' I did not wish you to come here ; I dreaded your tender- 
ness. I have had enough of the sight of Hamard without 
seeing you. Perhaps you would have been still less calm than 
ourselves. In a few days I will summon you, and then I count 
on you. 

' It was yesterday at eleven o'clock that we buried her, poor 
child. They put her wedding di'ess on her, with bunches of 
roses, immortelles and violets. I spent the whole night watch- 
ing her. She was straight, lying on her bed in that room, 
where you have heard her play. She seemed taller and more 
beautiful than in life, with that long white veil, which went 
down to her feet. In the morning, when all was finished, I 
gave her a last kiss in her coffin. I leaned over it, I placed 
my head in it, and I felt the lead give beneath my hands. It 
is I who had the cast taken. I saw the coarse paws of those 
clowns handle her, and cover her with plaster. I shall have 
her hand and her face. I shall beg Pradier to make me a 
bust of her, and I shall put it in my room. I have for myself 
her large striped wrapper, a lock of her hair, the table and the 
desk at which she used tc "^rite. That is all, all that remains 
of those we have loved. Hamard would come with us. On 
arriving in the cemetery, behind whose walls I used to walk in 
procession with the school, Hamard kneeled on the edge of 



40 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

the grave, and scut her kisses througli his tears. The grave 
was too narrow, the coffin could not sink in. They shook it, 
pulled it all ways, took a shovel, crowbars, and in the end a 
grave-digger stepped on it, on the place where the head was, 
to force it down. I was standing- at the side, my hat in my 
hand, I threw it away with a cry. 

' I will tell you the rest face to face, for I could not write all 
that. I was as dry as a tombstone, but in a state of horrible 
irritation. I wanted to tell you, what I have just written, 
thinking to please you. You have enough understanding, and 
you love me well enough to understand that word " please," 
which would make a commonplace person laugh. Here we 
are back at Croisset since Sunday. What a journey ! Alone 
with my mother and the child which cried ! The last time 
that I went from there, it was with you, do you remember .'' 
Of the four, who used to live there two remain. The trees 
have no leaves yet, the wind whistles, the river is flowing full, 
the rooms are cold and unfurnished. My mother is better 
than she might be. She occupies herself with her daughter's 
child, puts it to sleep in her own room, rocks it, tends it, as 
well as she can. She tries to make herself a mother again ; 
will she succeed ? The reaction has not yet come, and I fear 
it terribly. I am overwhelmed, stupefied ; I might well need 
to resume my art life, calm and full of long meditation. I 
laugh for pity at the vanity of the human will, when ], think 
that it is now six years since I have been wanting to take up 
my Greek again, and that circumstances are such, that I have 
not yet reached the verbs. Farewell, dear Max, I embrace 
you tenderly.' 

A month later he again wrote to Maxima Ducamp. The 

allusion to Novembre is to a romance which he had 

written early in the Paris days, and had read to Ducamp ; 

he destroyed the manuscript along with others in 1870, but 

a fragment survived, and is published in the volume entitled 

Par les champs et par les greves. A wild bit of work in 

his lyrical vein. 

'April 1846. 
' 1 have taken a large sheet of paper with the intention of 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 41 

writing you a long letter ; perhaps I shall only send you three 
lines ; that is as things will turn out. The sky is grey^ the 
Seine is yellow, the turf is green, the trees have hardly any 
leaves, they are beginning, it is the Spring, the season of joy 
and love. " But there is no more spring-time in my heart than 
on the high road where the bright sun wearies the eyes, where 
the dust rises in clouds." Do you remember where that comes? 
It is in Novemhre. I was nineteen years old when I wrote that, 
six years ago soon. It is strange with how little faith in happi- 
ness I was born. 

' I had a complete presentiment of life in my earliest days. It 
was like a sickly smell of cooking escaping through a ventilator. 
One has no need to have eaten to know that it will make one 
sick. I do not complain of that, however ; my last misfortunes 
have saddened me, but have not surprised me. Without in 
the least doing away with the sensation, I have analysed them 
like an artist. This occupation has in its melancholy fashion 
refreshed my sorrow. If I had expected better things of life, 
I "should have cursed it ; I have not done that. You would 
perhaps consider me a heartless man, if I were to tell you, that 
I do not consider the present condition the most pitiful of all. 
When I, had nothing to complain of, I thought myself still more 
to be pitied. After all, that has perhaps to do with practice. 
By dint of expanding itself to suffering, the soul attains to a 
prodigious capacity for it ; what once filled it to the point of 
bursting, now barely covers the bottom of the vessel. I have 
at least one infinite consolation, a foundation on which I rest ; it 
is this : I do not see that anything further can happen to me in 
the way of troubles. There is the death of my mother, which I 
foresee more or less distant ; but with less selfishness, I ought 
to summon it for her. Is there any humanity in helping the 
hopeless ? Have you reflected how we are created for sorrow } 
Men faint in voluptuous orgies, never in grief ; tears are to the 
heart what water is to the fishes. I am I'esigned to every- 
thing, ready for anything ; I have reefed my sails, and wait 
for the squall, my back to the wind, and my head on my 
breast. It is said that religious people endure the troubles of 
this world better than ourselves ; but the man who is con- 
vinced of the great harmony, who hopes for the annihilation 



42 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

of his body at the same time that his soul perhaps will 
return to sleep in the bosom of the great whole, to animate 
maybe the bodies of panthers^ or to glitter in the stars, he is no 
more tormented. The happiness of the mystics has been too 
much cried up. Cleopatra died as calmly as Saint Francis. 
I believe that the dogma of a future life was invented by 
the fear of Death, or the longing to snatch something from 
him. 

' Yesterday my niece was baptised. The child, the bystanders, 
myself, the priest himself, who had just dined, and was all red- 
faced, did not understand, any of us, what we were doing. 
Contemplating all these symbols, meaningless for us, I had the 
feeling of being present at some ceremony of an old world 
religion dug up out of its dust. It was very simple, and very 
familiar, and yet I could not get over my amazement. The 
priest muttered at a gallop Latin, which he did not understand ; 
we others did not listen; the child held its little bare head 
under the water, which was poured on it, the taper burned, and 
the verger responded : Amen ! For certain the most intelligent 
thing there was the stones, which had formerly understood all 
that, and which perhaps had retained something. 

' I am going to set myself to work at last — at last ! I have a 
longing, I have a hope to fag away immeasurably and for long. 
Have we laid our finger upon the emptiness of ourselves, of our 
plans, of our happiness, of beauty, goodness, everything ? I 
certainly appear to myself very limited, very mediocre. I am 
acquiring an artistic niceness, which makes me desperate ; I 
shall end with never writing another line. I think I might do 
something good, but I always ask myself to what purpose .'' It 
is the more odd, because I do not feel myself discouraged ; on 
the contrary, I enter more than ever into the pure idea, the 
infinite. I breathe there, it attracts me, I become a Brahmin, 
or rather I am going a bit mad. I have a strong suspicion that 
I shall not compose anything this summer. If there were any- 
thing it would be drama ; my oriental story is put off to next 
year, perhaps to the following, perhaps for ever. If my mother 
dies, my plans are made ; I sell everything and I go to live at 
Rome, Syracuse, Naples. Will you follow me ? A little calm, 
great God ! a little rest ; nothing but that. I do not ask for 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 43 

happiness. You seem to me happy, that is sad. Happiness 
is a purple mantle with a ragged lining ; when one wants to 
cover one's self with it, everything flies to the wind, and one 
remains frozen stiff in those chilly rags one had thought so 
warm.' 

The letters to Alfred le Poittevin bear a different stamp 
from those written to other friends. The man himself was 
something entirely out of the common mould. He died 
young, having brought no work to light by which he can be 
judged. As a rule extremely reserved, with Flaubert he 
expanded ; together they had travelled in the realm of 
metaphysics, they had studied not merely the rules of 
thought, and the machinery with which thought should be 
expressed, they had tried to discover the meaning of the 
systems in which human thought, relative to the unseen, has 
from time to time expressed itself. Alfred le Poittevin 
used to call himself intellectually a Greek of the Lower 
Empire. Flauberfs distinctive work, the historical analysis 
of the human mind, which, in two different regions, is the 
subject of the St. Anthoni/, and of Bouvard et Pecuchet., 
was the outcome of his comminiion with Alfred le Poittevin. 
The sound human affection of Maxime Ducamp coimted for 
much in his life ; for still more, the sympathy with Louis 
Bouilhet in the matter of literary form, and in a})preciation 
of the sacredness of letters ; but the sympathy of Alfred le 
Poittevin touched sj)heres to which neither of these had 
access. There are not many letters addressed to him, for 
the reason that he lived close to Rouen, and that the friends 
often met. 

It is in a letter to him that is first revealed in all its 
intensity Flauberfs disgust at the commonplace, the middle- 
class life, with its material preoccupations, its inept ejacula- 
tions, its self-complacency, smug vices, noisy rant. 



44 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

' There is now so great an interval between me and the rest 
of the world that I am sometimes amazed to hear the most 
natural, the most simple things. The commonest expression 
sometimes holds me in singular admiration. There are actions, 
voices, that I cannot get over, and inanities which almost make 
me reel. Have you ever listened attentively to people who 
were speaking in a language that you did not understand ? I 
am at that stage. By dint of wishing to understand everything, 
everything makes me think. It seems to me, however, that 
this condition of amazement is not stupidity. The middle-class 
man, for example, is to me something unlimited. You can't 
imagine what a treat the " fi'ightful " disaster of Monville has 
caused me ; to naake a thing interesting, it is enough to con- 
template it for a long time.' 

The disaster of Monville near Rouen is often alluded to in 
the correspondence. A destructive water-spout broke over 
the place. Among* the notes for the continuation of Bouvard 
et Pecuchet is the following excerpt from Raspail : ' The 
potato disease was caused by the disaster of Monville. The 
meteor acted more in the valleys, it withdrew the caloric. 
It is the residt of a sudden chill,"* 

Alfred le Poittevin married in 1846 a Mile, de Maupas- 
sant, and the young couple moved from Rouen. Flaubert 
felt this to be a double desertion ; and it is in this spirit that 
he writes of the event to Ernest Chevalier, who himself was 
living in Corsica. The letter concludes : — 

' My poor mother is always mourning — you have no idea of 
a grief like hers. If there is a God, one must admit that He is 
not always in a fit of good-humour. My courage sometimes 
fails to bear all alone the burden of this great despair that 
nothing lightens.' 

But he nobly went through with his task notwithstanding. 
Ducamp writes of him many years later : — 

' Gustave adored his mother, never left her, lived with her 
and for her. What he had considered a duty after the death of 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 45 

his fother had become a necessity of his nature ; he felt uneasy, 
almost unhappy away from her ; I alone know the sacrifices that 
he made to her, and which he never regretted. This impetuous, 
imperious giant, flying out at th<^ least contradiction, was the 
most respectful son, the gentlest, the most attentive that a 
mother could dream of.' 



CHAPTER V 



LOVE LOUIS BOUILHET PARODY 



Flaubert spent some weeks of the summer of 1846 in 
Paris, and in the last days of July met a lady in Pradier*'s 
studio with whom he corresponded for eight years ; the 
correspondence was to some extent interrupted during his 
travels in Brittany in 1847, and his Eastern journey, 1849-51. 
The lady in question was well known in Parisian literary 
circles ; she kept a salon where artists and Bohemians met. 
She was an intimate friend of Victor Hugo, Victor Cousin, 
and others. She died in 1875, before Flaubert ; and her 
friends, fortunately for us, restored the letters to his family. 
She was a married woman living apart from her husband, 
who died in 1851. 

There are allusions in these letters to a previous love 
affair. When Flaubert was fourteen he saw at Trouville, 
and forthwith adored, a lady who appears as Mme. Arnoux 
in the Education Sentimentale ; this calf-love made a great 
impression upon him, the more so perhaps that he never 
revealed it to the object of his affections, though they 
became friends. It is in these two instances only, that his 
equilibrium was seriously disturbed by the passion of love. 

'August 4, 1846. Tuesday, midnight. 
' Twelve hours ago we were still together ! How distant that 
is ! At present the night is warm and balmy ; I hear tlie great 



46 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 47 

tulip-tree under my window rustle in the wind, and when I lift 
my head I see the moon reflected in the river. I have just 
arranged all alone, and carefully put away, everything that you 
gave me ; your two letters are in the embroidered satchel ; I 
am going to read them again, when I have sealed mine. I did 
not like to take my ordinary note-paper to write to you ; it is 
edged with black ; let nothing sad ever pass from me to you ! 

' I would like to talk to you of nothing but joy, and surround 
you with a calm continuous happiness to pay you a little for all 
that you have given me open-handed in the generosity of your 
love. I am afraid of being cold, dry, selfish, and yet, God knows, 
what is going on in me at this moment ! What a recollection ! 
What a longing ! Ah ! those two good drives of ours ! How 
beautiful they were ! The second one especially with the 
lightning ! I recall the colour of the trees lighted by the 
lamps, and the swinging of the springs : we were alone, happy. 
I gazed at your head in the night, I saw it in spite of the dai'k- 
ness, your eyes lighted up your whole face. . . . 

' It seems to me that I am writing badly, you will read all this 
coldly ; I don't say anything that I want to say. My phrases 
tread on one another like sighs : to understand them you must 
fill up what separates one from another ; you will do that, will 
you not .'' My mother was waiting for me at the station ; she 
wept on seeing me arrive ; you wept on seeing me depart. 
Our fate is then such that we cannot move ourselves from one 
place to another without costing tears at either side. That is 
sombrely grotesque. I find here again the green lawns, the 
big trees, and the water flowing, as when I went away. My 
books are open in the same place ; nothing has changed. 
External nature shames us, she has a calm humiliating to our 
pride. Never mind, do not let us think of the future, nor of 
ourselves, nor of anything ! To think is the way to suffer. 
Let us allow our hearts to go before the wind, as long as it will 
fill the sail ! Let it carry us, as it pleases, and as for the cliffs 
— on my word — so much the worse ! We shall see. Farewell. 
Farewell.' 

'August 7, 1846. 

' Since we have told one another that we love, you ask me 
whence comes my reservation, that I do not add, " for ever." 



48 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

Why ? The reason is that I divine the future ; that the 
antithesis continually rises before my eyes. I have never seen 
a child without thinking that he will become an old man, nor 
a cradle without thinking of a grave. The contemplation of a 
woman makes me dream of her skeleton. That is why merry 
sights make me sad, and mournful spectacles affect me little. 
I weep too much inwardly to shed tears outwardly; a story 
read moves me more than a real misfortune. When I had a 
family, I often wished not to have one, to be freer, to go and 
live in China, or with savages. Now that I have none, I miss 
it, and cling on to the walls, where its shadow still remains. 
Other men would be proud of the love which you lavish upon 
me, their vanity would drink there at its ease, and their male 
self-esteem would be flattered by it to its most intimate folds ; 
but it only makes my heart faint with sadness, when the 
moments of excitement are passed; fori say to myself: '^ she 
loves me, and I who love her too, do not love her enough. If 
she had never known me, I should have spcired her all the tears 
that she sheds." 

' You think that you will always love me, child ! always ! 
What presumption in a human mouth ! You have loved before 
now, have you not ? as I have ; do you remember that then too 
you said "^for ever" ? 

' But I am tormenting you, vexing you. . . . Never mind, I 
prefer to disturb your happiness now rather than to exaggei'ate 
it coldly, as they all do, so that its loss hereafter may make you 
suffer more. . , . Who knows } Perhaps you will thank me 
later for having had the courage not to be more tender. Ah ! 
if I had lived at Paris, if all the days of my life could have been 
passed with you ! yes, I would let myself go with the stream 
without crying for help. I should have found in you a daily 
satisfaction for ray heart and head, that would never have 
wearied me. But separated, destined to see one another but 
rarely, it is frightful, what a perspective ! and yet what is to be 
done? I cannot conceive how I managed to leave you. That is 
just me, that is ! That is just my pitiful nature ; were you not 
to love me, I should die of it ; you do love me, and I am for 
writing to you to stop. I would have liked to pass into your 
life like a fresh stream, which would have cooled the thirsty 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 49 

banks, and not like a ravaging torrent ; the memory of me 
should have made your flesh quiver, and your heart smile. Do 
not ever curse me ! There — I shall have loved you veiy much 
before I cease to love you. For my part — I shall always bless 
you ; your image will remain for me suffused with poetry and 
tenderness, as was last night's sky in the milky vapours of its 
silvery mist. This month I will come to see you, I will be with 
you one big whole day. I owe you a frank explanation about 
myself to reply to a page of your letter, which shows me 
the illusions that you have with regard to me. It would be 
cowardly of me to let them last longer, and cowardice is a vice 
which disgusts me under whatever aspect it appears. 

' Whatever they say, the bottom of my nature is the mounte- 
bank. In my childhood and in my youth I had a mad love of 
the boards. I should perhaps have been a great actor if Heaven 
had willed me to be born poorer. And now what I like above 
everything is form, provided that it be beautiful and nothing 
more. Women, whose hearts are too ardent and minds too 
narrow, do not understand this religion of beauty, this abstrac- 
tion of sentiment. They must always have a cause, an end. I, 
for my part, admire tinsel as much as gold. The poetry of the 
tinsel is even superior, in that it is sad. For me there is nothing 
in the world except beautiful verses, well turned, harmonious, 
resonant phrases, glorious sunsets, moonlight, coloured paintings, 
antique marbles, and shapely heads. Beyond that, nothing. I 
would sooner have been Talma than Mirabeau, because he lived 
in a sphere of purer beauty. Caged birds stir my compassion as 
much as enslaved peoples. In all politics there is only one 
thing that I understand, revolt. Fatalist as a Turk, I believe 
that all that we may do for the progress of humanity, or any- 
thing else, comes to absolutely the same thing. As for this 
" progress," my understanding is a bit obtuse for things that 
are not quite clear. All that has to do with that way of 
talking fatigues me immeasurably. I hate the modern tyranny, 
because it seems to me stupid, feeble, and timid in itself, but I 
have a deep admiration for the ancient tyranny, which I regard 
as the finest manifestation of man. I am before everything the 
man of fancy, caprice, inconsequence. Some day I shall live 
far from here, and more will be heard of me. As for what 



50 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

ordinarily touches men the most nearly in the matter ol 
physical love, I have always separated it from the other. I saw 
you laugh at that the other day in relation to B. . . . that was 
my own story. You are certainly the only woman that I have 
loved. 

' I loved one from the age of fourteen to twenty without 
telling her, without touching her ; and I was nearly three years 
after that without being aware of my sex. At one time I 
thought I should die, so I thanked Heaven for it. You are the 
only woman that I have ventured to wish to please, and perhaps 
the only one that I have pleased. Thank you, thank you. 
But will you understand me to the end, will you bear the 
weight of my weariness, my whims, my caprices, my despairs, 
and my violent reactions .'' You tell me, for example, to write 
to you every day, and if I do not you will scold me. Well — the 
idea that you expect a letter eveiy morning will prevent me 
from writing it. Let me love you after my own fashion, in the 
manner of my being, with what you call my originality. Force 
me to nothing, and I will do everything. Understand me and 
don't accuse me. If I judged you to be frivolous and silly like 
other women I would pay you with words, promises, oaths. 
What would that cost me .'' But I prefer to remain below, 
rather than above my heart's truth. 

' The Numidians, Herodotus says, have a strange custom. 
They burn the skin of their heads with coal when they are 
quite small, so that they may afterwai-ds be less sensitive to 
the action of the sun, which is devouring in their country. So 
of all people in the world it is they who are the healthiest. 
Think that I have been brought up in Numidia. Would it not 
have been poor sport to have said to them, " You feel nothing, 
the sun itself does not warm you ! " Oh, do not be afraid ! 
there may be a hard skin somewhere on my heart, but it is 
none the less good.' 

Though these letters are given in the order in which they 
were written, all are not given ; only those in which a new 
string seems to be touched, and which therefore throw addi- 
tional light on Flauberfs character ; or those which are in 
themselves intrinsically beautiful. 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 51 

'August 12, 1846. 

' You would inspire a dead man with love. How then do you 
wish me not to love you ? You have a power of attraction to 
make the stones stand up at your voice. Your letters move me 
to my inmost parts. Fear not then, that I shall forget you. 
You know well that natures like youi's are not left, those 
emotional, moving, deep natures. I am angry with myself, 
I could beat myself for having caused you pain. Forget every- 
thing that I said in Sunday's letter. I had addressed myself to 
your male intelligence, I believed that you would know how to 
abstract yourself from yourself, and understand me in your 
heart. You have seen too many things, where there was not so 
much ; you have exaggerated all that I said to you. Perhaps 
you beheved that I was posing, that I was giving myself out 
for the Anthony of a small theati'e. You treat me as a 
Voltaii-ian, and materialist. God knows, however, if I am. 
You also speak to me of my exclusive tastes in literature, which 
ought to have made you divine what I am in love, I am 
searching in vain for what all that means. I don't understand 
a word of it. On the contrary I admire eveiything in my 
heart's good faith ; and if I am worth anything at all, it is in 
virtue of this pantheistic faculty, and also of that harshness 
which has wounded you. Come, don't let us talk any more of 
it. I was wrong, I was a fool, I did with you what I have 
done at other times with my best loved ones, I showed them 
the bottom of my bag, and the bitter dust which flew out of it, 
made them choke. How many times without meaning it have 
I not made iny father weep ! He so intelligent, so acute ! 
But he understood nothing of my way of speech. He like 
you, like the othei-s. I have the infirmity of having been born 
with a special language to which I alone have the key. I am 
not vmhappy at all, I am not surfeited with anything, everybody 
thinks me of a very gay character, and never in my life do I 
complain. At the bottom I do not think myself much to be 
pitied, for I envy nothing, and I want nothing. There — I will 
not torment you any more, I will touch you gently, like a child 
that one is afraid of wounding, I will draw back into myself 
the prickles which come out of me. With just a little good- 
will even the porcupine does not always hurt. You say that I 



52 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

analj^se too much, I think that I do not know myself enough ; 
every day I discover something new in me. 1 travel in myself 
as in an unknown country, although I have traversed it a 
hundred times. You are not grateful to me for my frankness 
(women want to be deceived, they force you to it, and if you 
resist, they blame you). You tell me that I did not show 
myself like that at first : on the contrary, recall your recollec- 
tions. I began by showing you my wounds. Recall all that I 
said to you at our first dinner ; why you cried out youi-self : 
" So you excuse everything ! There is no longer either good or 
evil for you." No, I have never lied to you, I loved you 
instinctively, and I did not deliberately make up my mind to try 
and please you. That all happened because it had to happen. 
Laugh at my fatalism, add that I am something late in being a 
Turk, Fatalism is the Providence of evil, it is the Providence 
that we see, I believe. 

' The tears that I find on your letters, those tears caused by 
me, I would like to buy them back again by so many drops of 
blood. I am furious with myself, it increases my disgust for 
myself. Were it not for the idea that I please you I should 
hold myself in hori'or. For the rest, it is always so ; we make 
those whom we love suffer, or they make us suffer. How is it 
that you reproach me with this phrase : " I would wish never to 
have known you ! " I know of nothing more tender. Would 
you like me to supply the parallel to that ? It is the phrase 
that I uttered on the eve of my sister's death, uttered like a cry, 
and which revolted everybody. There was a talk of my mother. 
" If she could only die ! " As it appears, that sort of thing is 
not fashionable, and seems either odd or cruel ; what the devil 
is one to say when one's heart is full to bursting } 

' Ask yourself whether there are many men who would have 
written you that letter which hurt you so much. Few, I think, 
would have adopted that style, that com})lete self-abnegation. 
Please tear up that lettei*, my love, don't think any more of it, 
or read it over again from time to time, when you feel yourself 
strong. Come — laugh ! To-day I am merry, I don't know why, 
the sweetness of your letters of this morning passes into my 
blood. But don't spin me any more commonplaces such as this: 
that it is money that has prevented me from being happy ; that 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 53 

if I had worked I should have been better off ; as if to be an 
apothecaiy's apprentice, baker, or wine-merchant were enough 
to prevent one being bored in this world ! That has all been 
said to me too often by a crowd of commonplace people for me 
to wish to hear it in your mouth, it spoils it ; your mouth was 
not made for that. But I thank you for approving of my 
literary silence. If I have anything new to say, when the time 
comes it will be said of itself. Oh ! how I should like to write 
great works to please you, how I should like to see you quiver 
at my style, I who have no desire for fame (and more sincerely 
than the fox in the fable) ; I would like to have it for you, to 
throw it to you like a bouquet, that it might be a caress the 
more, and a soft bed in which your mind might spread itself 
when it thought of me. You say I am handsome ; I would 
like to be handsome, to have black curls Mling over my ivory 
shoulders like the Greek youths ; I would like to be strong, 
pure ; but I look at myself in the glass, and think that you love 
me, and discover myself to be revoltingly commonplace. 

' I have hard hands, bowed knees, and a narrow chest. If I 
had only had a voice, if I knew how to sing, I would modulate 
those long aspii-ations, which now have to pass away in sighs ! 
If you had known me ten years ago, I was fresh, perfumed, 
breathing life and love ; but now I see my maturity bordering 
on decay. >*- *t 

' I regret all my past, it seems to me that I should have kept 
it in reserve, in an attitude of waiting, to give it to you when 
the time came. But I never suspected that any one could love 
me, it still seems to me something outside nature — Love for me ! 
How comic it is ! and, like a spendthrift who wants to ruin 
himself in a day, I have given all my riches, small and great.' 

From the next letter we see that the lady had begun to 
send verses ; she was by way of being a poetess, and the 
curious may still discover her published works. To the lover 
these verses naturally appeared full of every charm. They 
were accompanied by a portrait of the lady herself, a proof 
of an engraving which was published in some Parisian book 
of beauty ; and with all Flaubert^s aversion to falsehood and 



54 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

hypocrisy, he found it necessary to invent a half truth to 
account to his mother for his possession of the portrait, 
which the good mother indeed judged to be pretty, repre- 
senting a countenance animated, open, and good. 
The letter concludes : — 

' I read this morning some verses from your volume with a 
friend who came to see me. He is a poor fellow who gives 
lessons here to earn his bread, and who is a poet, a i-eal poet, 
who does splendid, charming work, and who will remain 
unknown because he is in want of two things ; bread and 
leisure. Yes, we I'ead you, we admired you.' 

The poet in question was Louis Bouilhet, who lived with 
Flaubert in the closest friendship till his death in 1867 ; the 
nature of this friendship may be felt through the following- 
passage which concludes Flaubert's preface to a posthumous 
volume of his friend's poems : — 

' And since to everything a moral is demanded, here is mine : 
Are there anywhere two young fellows who spend their Sundays 
reading the poets together, telling one another what they have 
done, the plans of the works they would wish to write, the 
similes that have occurred to them, a phrase, a word ; — and 
who, though despising all besides, conceal this passion with a 
virgin's modesty, I give them this advice : — 

' Go side by side in the woods declaiming verses, mingling 
your soul with the sap of the trees, and the eternity of master- 
pieces, lose yourselves in historic dreams, in consternation in 
the presence of the sublime ! spend your youth in the arms of 
the Muse ! Her love consoles for the loss of other loves, and 
replaces them. 

' At last, if the incidents of life when once perceived, seem 
to you ti'ansposed, as if for the purpose of an illusion to be 
described, so that all things, your own existence included, shall 
seem to you to have no other utility, if you are resolved to face 
any outrage, ready for any sacrifice, armed against every trial, 
launch yourselves, publish! 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 55 

' Then, whatever may happen, you will see the pitifulness of 
your rivals without indignation, and their fame without envy ; 
for the less favoured will console himself by the success of the 
more fortunate ; the one whose nerves are strong will support 
the comrade who loses heart, each will bring to the common 
stock his particular acquisitions; and this reciprocal control 
will prevent pride, and defer decadence. 

' Then when one has died — for the life was too beautiful — let 
the other preserve his memory as a precious possession to make 
him a bulwark against baseness, a resource in weakness, or 
rather as a domestic oratory, to which he will repair to murmur 
his sorrows and empty his heart. How many times in the night 
will he, casting his eyes into the darkness behind that lamp, 
which used to shine on the two heads, vaguely seek for a 
shadow, ready to ask it : " Is it so .'' What am I to do .^ Tell 
me " — and if this memory is the everlasting food of his despair, 
it will at least be a companion in his solitude.' 

Louis Bouilhet we have already seen with Ernest Chevalier, 
a school friend of Flaubert. He was born at Cany, a small 
village outside Rouen ; his father had been a military 
surgeon ; his maternal grandfather, an active-minded man, 
who corresponded with Voltaire, Turgot, Condorcet, lived 
to be nearly a hundred. Bouilhet was a year younger than 
Flaubert, and unlike Flaubert carried off' all the prizes at 
school, ' although the very reverse of what is called " a good 
boy," — the term applied to mediocre natures, and to a modera- 
tion of character, which was rare at that time."' 

Among the little group of lads before mentioned, whose 
exalted imaginations led them to strange excesses, Bouilhet 
was the elegiac poet, the singer of ruins and moonlights. 
This phase was succeeded by a republican fervour ; in his 
twentieth year he all but joined a secret society. After 
taking his degree he had to decide upon a profession, and 
selected that of medicine. He became a resident student, 
assistant house-surgeon, with the elder Flaubert. He had 



56 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

inherited a small income from a godfather ; this he generously 
handed over to his mother and two sisters, and supported 
himself by giving private lessons to young persons who 
experienced a difficulty in passing examinations. As this 
coaching work occupied the greater part of his days, night 
duty at the infirmary fell to him more often than to any 
other student. Many of his best early verses were written 
in the wards of the hospital ; indeed he would write verses 
anywhere, and was never without a note-book in which the 
inspiration of the moment could be jotted down. Like his 
friend, he was physically a fine man, — elegantly built, tall, 
robust, with a flood of golden curls. In 1846, on the death 
of Pere Flaubert he definitely abandoned medicine, and took 
exclusively to ' making bachelors of arts."' After 1848 his 
faith in republicanism and interest in politics vanished. It 
was in May 1846 that his closer intimacy with Flaubert 
began ; he used to arrive at Croisset on Saturday evening or 
Sunday, and stay till Monday morning. ' Part of the night 
was spent in reading over the week's work. What hours of 
expansion ! Endless cries, exclamations, arguments for or 
against the retention of an epithet, reciprocal enthusiasm.'' 
Bouilhet was a superb Latinist, and familiar with all classical 
literature, Greek no less than Latin. Though extremely 
shy, blushing under a look, uncomfortable in a drawing- 
room, he understood no nonsense when a literary question 
arose; he supported his convictions with energy and wit, 
and had a formidable power of sarcasm. 

At this time Flaubert was amusing himself with a careful 
study of the tragedies of Voltaire and Marmontel. Maxime 
Ducamp asks — to what purpose ? One outcome of the study 
was a parody, — ' a tragedy according to the rules, with the 
three unities, and wherein nothing would ever be called by 
its right name."' Flaubert, Bouilhet, Ducamp spent hours 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 57 

together over this burlesque, which was never published, nor 
indeed finished. A few verses however have been preserved. 
The plot and subject came from Flaubert, but none of the 
verses ; he never wrote a verse in his life that would scan, 
or a couplet that would rhyme. 

The subject of the tragedy was ' Jenner, or the Discovery 
of Vaccine."' The action took place in the palace of Gonnor, 
prince of the Angles ; the stage represented a colonnade 
ornamented M'ith the spoils of the conquered Caledonians. 
A sawbones, pupil of Jenner, and jealous of his master, 
played the principal ])art in the piece. Materialist and 
atheistic, fed on the doctrines of Holbach, Helvetius, and 
Lamettrie, he foresees the French Revolution, and predicts 
the accession of Louis Philippe. The other heroes were 
outlined on those of Marmonters tragedies. The small-pox, 
personified as a monster, appears in a dream to the young- 
princess, the daughter of the virtuous Gonnor. A sentinel 
is suddenly seized by the unknown malady ; which Jenner, 
' eldest son of iEsculapius,' is to succeed in curing ; the 
patient writhes with pain, for 

* The flowers of high iEtna, the snows of the Alps 
Contend for his senses. ' 

An attendant maiden offers him a glass of sweetened 
water with a little orang-e-flower : — 

* This juice so delicious expressed from the cane 
Which is melted in water, and sent us from Spain, 
Thus mingled with perfumes hrought hither in ships 
From the far western islands may moisten your lips.' 

The remedy fails ; the sentinel still raves ; they then 
propose to go and fetch him the instrument with which 
Moliere pursued M. de Pourceaugnac, and which, in the lips 
of the young Caledonian maid, becomes : — 

* The tortuous tube from whence health gushes forth.' 



58 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

In another place Jenner^s official hat is described^as 

'The majestic liead-piece 
That oi'iiament stately whose mother is Cireece. ' 

While a woman, whose face Avas so pitted with small-pox 
as to resemble a skimmer, is thus nobly delineated : — 

' I have seen a maiden whose gentle aspect 
Caused my horrified eyes on the spot to detect 
A resemblance to tliat thousand-pierced machine, 
Armed with which the good matron may often be seen, 
To remove from the brim of her vessels of clay 
The foam of the juices those vessels convey.' 

In such pleasant fooling as this Flaubert and Bouilhet 
settled slowly down to their lifelong work ; the one began 
the first edition of Saint Anthony, the other a poem with a 
Roman subject, Melaenis. 



CHAPTER VI 

THE PATH OF LOVE NOT SMOOTH LETTER TO MRS. TENNAXT 

Meanwhile, the correspondence with the Parisian poetess 
continued ; it had lasted little more than a fortnight, when 
' the cliffs "* appeared on the horizon. The lady began to 
urge her admirer to come to Paris, to live there permanently 
with her ; she was not altogether satisfied with his absorbing- 
admiration of the beautiful in art ; nor could she understand 
why, loving her so much, he should still remain in attend- 
ance on his mother. 

' You are always speaking to me of your sorrows ; I believe 
in them^ I have seen the proof of it, I feel it in myself, wliich 
is better. But I see another sorrow, a son*ow which is there by 
my side, and which never complains ; — which even smiles, and 
in comparison with which, yours, immense though it may be, 
will never be more than a rash compared to a burn, a convul- 
sion beside an agony. There is the vice in which I am caught. 
The two women, that I love best, have passed a bit with two 
reins into my heart, by which they hold me, pull me altei'nately 
by love and pain.' 

A recommendation to read the morning papers met with 
no very encouraging response : — 

' I don't care about news ; politics bore me, I loathe periodi- 
cals ; the whole business makes me dull or furious. You speak 
to me of an earthquake at Leghorn, Even if I were to open 
my mouth over that and emit the phrases of consecrated usage 

59 



60 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

under sucli circumstances : " It is veiy tiresome ! " " What a 
frightful disaster ! " " Is it possible ? " " Oh, good God ! " will 
that itestore life to the dead, -wealth to the poor ? In all that 
there is a hidden meaning that escapes us, which we do not 
imderstand, and doubtless a superior utility, as in the wind and 
rain ; because our melon frames have been broken by the hail, 
must we wish to suppress hurricanes ? Who knows but what 
the wind that brings down a roof, opens up a whole forest? 
Why should not the volcano which destroys a town fertilise a 
province ? 

' I regret that Phidias (Pradier) is not coming. He is an 
excellent fellow and a great artist ; yes, a great artist, a real 
Greek, and the most ancient of all the moderns, a man who does 
not concern himself with anything, neither with politics, nor 
socialism, nor Fourier, nor the Jesuits, nor the University, who 
is there like a good workman with his sleeves tucked up doing 
liis business from morning till evening, with the wish to do it 
well, and the love of his art. Everything is there, in the love 
of art. But I stop, — that irritates you again : you do not like 
to hear me say that I concern myself more about a verse than a 
man, and that I am more grateful to the poets than to the saints 
and heroes.' 

Within a month jealousy had declared itself; the object, 
a model of Pradier"'s ; and then there was always the standing 
jealousy of the lady of Trouville. Under the circumstances 
the following confidence was scarcely discreet : — 

' You make a very true remark ; love is a great comedy, and 
life also, when one does not take a pai't in it ; only I do not 
admit that it is laughable. Nearly eighteen months ago I 
made this experience in a living subject, that is to say that the 
expei'ience was there ready made. I used to visit a house where 
there was a daughter, charming, wonderfully beautiful, of a 
beauty altogether Christian and .almost Gothic, if I may say so ; 
she had a simple mind inclined to devotion, she wept and 
laughed turn in and turn out, as rain succeeds sunshine and 
sunshine rain ; I moved this beautiful heart with my words at 
my pleasure, the heart in which there was nothing that was not 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 61 

pure. I see her still reclining on her rose pillow and looking 
at me, as I read, with her wide blue eyes. One day we were 
alone, sitting on a sofa, she took my hand, passed her fingers 
into mine ; I let her do it without thinking of anything at all ; 
for 1 am very innocent at most times, and she looked at me 
with a look which still makes me shudder. 

' Her mother came in just then, she understood it all and 
smiled. I am sure that the poor little thing had given way to 
a moment of irresistible tenderness, one of those swoons of the 
soul in which it seems that everything in you melts and dissolves 
— a voluptuous pain, which would be full of rapture were one 
not I'eady to burst into sobs or melt into tears. You cannot 
imagine the impression of tei*ror that I felt ; I went back home 
quite upset, and reproaching myself for living ; I do not know if 
I exaggerated the thing to myself, but I, who did not love her, 
I would have given my life to redeem that sad look of love to 
which mine did not respond.' 

After this, one is not surprised that the next letter begins 
with reproaching a temporary lull of four days in the 
correspondence. It continues : — 

' You would like me to know Beranger ; so I should. His is 
a great nature which touches me. But in speaking of his works 
there is one great misfortune, and that is the class of his 
admirers. There are enormous geniuses who have only one 
defect, one vice, that is of being felt above all by vulgar minds, 
hearts open to light poetry. For three years Beranger has 
been solacing the loves of students, and the sensual dreams of 
bagmen. I know that he does not wi'ite for them, but these 
are the people who feel him above all others; and it is all 
very well talking, but the populai'ity which seems to exjiand 
his genius, vulgarises it, because the really beautiful is not 
for the masses, above all in France. . . . For my own special 
consumption those that I like the best, ai'e the geniuses a little 
less agreeable to handle, more contemptuous of the people, 
more retired, more haughty in their ways and tastes ; or 
perhaps the only man who can replace them all — my old 
friend Shakespeare, upon whom I am going to start again from 



62 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

one end to the other, and not to leave him this time till I have 
his pages at my fingers' ends. When I read Shakespeare^ I 
become greater, more intelligent, purer. Arrived at the 
summit of one of his vi^orks I seem to be on a high mountain, 
everything disappears, and everything appears, one ceases to be 
a man, one becomes an eye, new horizons rise, the perspective 
is prolonged to infinity, one does not think that one has lived 
thus in those cabins, that are hardly distinguishable, that one 
has drunk at all those rivers, v^^hich look smaller than brooks, 
in a word that one has moved in that ant-hill and made part of 
it. I once wrote in a moment of happy pride, which I should 
be veiy glad to recover again, a phrase that you will under- 
stand. It was of the joy caused by reading great poets. It 
seemed to me at times that the enthusiasm they caused me 
made me their equal, and lifted me to their level ! Come, you 
are still vexed about what I said to you on the subject of the 
St. Sylvestre. I said that just simply to divert you. I have 
very little perspicacity in relation to you, as it appears. My 
science collapses before women, it is true that they are a 
chapter in which the next line always proves to you, that you 
understood nothing whatever of the preceding one.' 

Through a cousin, the adored one discovered the place of 
residence of the Trouville lady, somewhere in America, and 
Flaubert proposed to make use of this channel to transmit a 
letter to the ancient object of his affections, which was first 
to be read by the present divinity. In the letter in which 
this proposal was made, the following sentence occurs : — 

'No, I would like to make of you something quite apart, 
neither friend nor mistress, that is too restricted, too exclusive, 
one does not love one's friend enough, with one's mistress one is 
too silly. It is the middle term that I seek, the essence of these 
two mingled sentiments,' 

In spite of this flattering statement the suggestion proved 
not altogether acceptable, and the reply to it elicited the 
following response : — 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 63 

' Wednesday, 9 p.m. October 1, 1846. 

'"Frankly, speak to me frankly." That is your expression; 
and at the same time you say you want me to spare you, you 
accuse me of being brutal, and you do everything you can to 
make me more so. For a man of common sense it is at once a 
strange and curious thing the art that women exert to force you 
to deceive them, they make you hypocritical in spite of yourself, 
and then they accuse you of having told lies, of having betrayed 
them. Ah well ! no, my poor darling, I will not be more 
explicit than I have been, because it seems to me that I cannot 
be. I have always told you all the truth and nothing but the 
truth. 

' If I cannot come to Paris as you wish, the reason is that 
I must stay here. My mother needs me, the least absence 
makes her uneasy, her grief imposes a thousand unimaginable 
tyrannies upon me ; what would be nothing for others is for 
me much. I cannot send people marching who entreat me with 
sad faces and tears in their eyes. I am as feeble as a child, 
and I give way because I do not like reproaches, entreaties, 
sighs. 

' Last year, for example, I went sailing in a boat every day, I 
ran no risk in it, because, apart from my good seamanship, I am 
an unusually strong swimmer ; well, this year she took it into 
her head to be anxious ; she did not ask me not to betake 
myself any more to this exercise, which is for me, especially at 
the time of high tides as now, full of charm : I cut the wave 
which wets me as it falls back on the flanks of my bark, I let 
go my sail, which shivers and flaps with joyous movement, I 
am alone, without speaking, without thinking, given up to 
the furies of nature, and rejoicing in feeling myself at her 
mercy ; well, she said nothing to me on the subject, but none 
the less I have put the whole apparatus away in the attic, and 
there is not a day on which I do not wish to take it out again ; 
I do nothing of the kind ; to avoid certain allusions, certain 
looks, that is all. In the same way for ten years I concealed 
the fact of my writing, in order to spare myself a possible 
raillery. 

' I should want an excuse to go to Paris — what excuse ? On 
the following journey another, and so on. Having nothing but 



64 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

myself that attaches her to life my mother is all day after 
worrying her head about the possible misfortmies and accidents 
that may happen to me. When I want anything, I do not ring, 
because if that happens, I hear her running all breathless up 
the stairs to come and see if I am not ill ; and so I am obliged 
to go down myself, and look for wood, when mine is out, for 
my tobacco when I want to smoke, my candles, when my own 
are used up. Yet again, my poor soul, I assure you, that if I 
could, not go to Paris, but live there with j^ou, or at any rate 
near you, I would do so. But , . . alas ! . . . alas ! 

' I remember that about ten years ago one holidays we were 
at Havre, my fether heard there, that a woman whom he had 
known in his youth, when seventeen years old, was living there 
with her son, then an actor in the theatre at that town ; he 
took it into his head to go and see her again. This woman, a 
celebrated beauty in her native place, had formerly been his 
mistress ; he did not do as many middle class people would 
have done, he did not conceal the fact, he was too lofty for 
that ; he went then to pay her a visit, my mother and we 
three remained on foot in the street waiting for him — the 
visit lasted nearly an hour. Do you think that my mother was 
jealous, or that she felt the smallest annoyance on the subject } 
Not a bit of it, and yet she loved him, loved him as much 
as a woman ever has been able to love a man, and that, not 
only when they were young, but to the very last day after a 
union of thirty-five years. Why do you wound yourself in 
anticipation about a word of remembrance that I intend to 
send to Madame X ? I do more than my father, for I make 
you a third in our conversation, — which takes place across 
the Atlantic. 

' Yes, I wish you to read my letter, if I write one, if you wish 
it, if you understand beforehand the sentiment which leads me 
to do so. You think that in this there is some want of delicacy 
towards you, I should have thought the contraiy — I should 
have seen in it a more than ordinary mark of confidence. I 
give you my whole past, and that irritates you ; I say to you : 
' here, see — that is what I did love, and it is you that I do 
love ! ' That hurts you ! On my honour it is enough to make 
a man go out of his mind.' 



LIFE OF GUSTA\^ FLAUBERT 65 

After this, the letter ends amicably ^nth sentimental 
allusions to some hours spent together at ]\Iantes, 

About this time the follo-n-ing letter was written to Miss 
Grertrude Collier (aftenvards Mrs. Tennant) : — 

' Shall I never see you again ? Is your departure really 
determined on ? But why do you not go by way of Rouen ? 
That road would take you the quickest, and I should be able 
to say Good-bye to you. If you are dismal at leaving Paris, 
so am I at yom- departure. I shall never be able to see 
your poor house again ^vithout a heartache. There are now 
a crowd of places on the earth, where my soul bleeds when 
I pass. All is leaving me ; my relations die, my friends go 
away. Nothing remains to me of all that but the memorj' ; 
yours will always remain dear to me. I shall never forget 
those long afternoons that I used to go and spend at Rond- 
Point, our happy readings, our endless talks. When I was 
living in that dismal Rue de I'Est, I used to promise myself 
my days of visiting you like holidays ; at that time those were 
my best moments, and in my last stay in Paris with what 
pleasure did I not carry myself back to that pleasant vanished 
past ! We laughed again there then, do you remember it ? 
For me, that journey made between the deaths of my father 
and sister, has left in my thoughts as it were, the memory of 
an hour of rest between two hiuxicanes, and then, how should 
I not think of you all with tenderness, you are mixed in so 
many things of my inner life .'' I knew you at Trou\dl]e in the 
times when we were all there. I have kept for myself the 
striped red and blue wrapper that Henrietta used to wear, and 
which she gave Caroline. 

' VTho knows when I shall see you again, and if I ever shall 
see you again? I misti-ust all happiness more than ever, I 
have dark misgivings about the future, and besides, if I see you 
all again, doubtless all will be changed. I do not say that you 
will forget me : I do really believe in your friendship, but I 
have a distrust of time, see you.'' of time, which rots everything, 
like the rain, which gnaws the hardest marbles, and the most 
soUd feelings, . . . You will be married perhaps, so many things 
will have arisen ! May heaven make you happy, Gertnide ! 

E 



66 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

That is my deepest prayer. If I did not think that you esteem 
me too much to ask of me the conventional phrases on this 
occasion, I would send you a crowd of common-places which 
I spare you, but you know what I am to you. . . . Farewell — 
Farewell — "entirely yours." (This is not a formula.)' 

Apparently our Parisian friend kept no letters that reached 
her between the 20th of October and the 22nd of December 
1846, for the next one is of the latter date, and written at 
four o'clock in the afternoon ; in spite of Maxime Ducamp''s 
assertion that Flaubert dated his letters, if at all, only by 
the day of the week — a statement which, by the way, is 
partially true. 

' To deny the existence of gloomy sentiments, because they 
are gloomy is to deny the sun so long as it is not mid-day ; 
truth resides as much in the half-tones as in the violent 
contrasts. I had in my youth a real friend, who was devoted 
to me, who would have given his life and his money for me, but 
he would not have got up half an hour earlier, he would not 
have accelerated any one of his movements to please me. When 
we observe life with a little attention we see the cedars less tall 
and the reeds taller. 

' Still, I do not like the habit that certain people have 
adopted, of bringing down the great enthusiasms and diminish- 
ing the exceptionally sublime. Accordingly, de Vigny's book. 
Military Servitude and Greatness shocked me a little at first, 
because I saw in it a systematic depreciation of blind devotion 
(of the adoration of the Emperor, for instance) of man's 
fanaticism for a man, to the benefit of the dry abstract idea of 
duty, an idea which I have never been able to grasp, and which 
does not seem to me inherent in human entrails. It is the 
adoration of the Emperor that is beautiful in the Empire, a love 
exclusive, absurd, sublime, thoroughly human ; that is why I 
fail to understand what is the meaning for us to-day of the 
Fatherland. I clearly grasp what it was for the Greek who 
had only his town, for the Roman who had only Rome, for the 
savage that one hunts down in the forest, for the Arab whom 
one chases to his tent. But as for us, do we not at bottom feel 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 67 

ourselves as much Chinese or EngHsh as Fi-ench ? Do not all 
our dreams go abroad ? As children we wish to live in the 
country of parrots and preserved dates, we grow up with Byron 
or Virgil, we covet the East on our rainy days, or perhaps we 
wish to go and make our fortune in the Indies, or exploit sugar- 
cane in America. The earth is our Fatherland, the Universe, 
the stars, the air, thought itself, that is to say, the infinite in 
our breasts ; but the quarrels of people with people, of canton 
with district, of man with man, interest me little, and only 
amuse me when they make great pictures with red back- 
grounds.' 

Young people who believe in inspiration, in long spells of 
work ' when the fit takes them," in burning the midnight oil, 
and the candle at both ends, would do well to ponder on the 
following piece of advice addressed to the same person as the 
last letter. 

' You have been ill ! Do not give way to any more of those 
excesses in the matter of work, which exhaust, and by reason of 
that fatigue which they entail, make you lose more time in the 
end than you have gained ; it is not the big dinners and great 
ox'gies that nourish, but a regular, systematic diet, 

' Work patiently every day an equal number of hours, adopt 
the habit of a studious and calm life, in the first place you will 
find a great charm in it, and in the second you will gain strength. 
I too, have had the mania for spending nights without sleep, 
which leads to nothing but exhaustion. 

' You should iToistrust everything which resembles inspiration, 
for that is often nothing more than a deliberate determination 
and forced excitement, voluntarily caused, and which did not 
come of itself ; besides we do not live in inspiration; Pegasus 
walks more often than he gallops, genius consists in showing 
how to make hiin take the pace we require, but for that 
pui-pose, we must not force his stride, as they say in the riding 
schools, we must read much, think much, always be concerned 
with style, and write as little as possible, simply to calm the 
irritation of the idea, which must needs take a form, and which 
turns and turns in us, till we have found it an exact, precise 



68 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

form ; observe that we arrive at producing beautiful things by 
dint of patience, and protracted effort ; control the violent 
workings of your mind, which has already made you suffer so 
much ; fever destroys the intellect, anger has no overpowering 
force, it is a Colossus whose knees totter, and which wounds 
itself more than others.' 



CHAPTER VII 



TOUR IN BRTTTAXy STYLK 



The correspondence with Ernest Chevalier, still in Corsica, 
was not dropped. Maxime Ducamp had succeeded, early in 
1847, in getting Madame Flaubert to consent to an expedition 
into Brittany, which was to begin on the 1st of May and 
last three months ; she had seen the necessity of giving 
Gustave some complete change ; and he wrote to inform his 
old friend of the fact. The letter concludes : — 

* There is nothing new here. Everything goes on in the old 
lines. My mother always sad. The child walks, lives and cries. 
My lord Alfred is at Neuville, not doing much, and still the 
same being that you knew, and the citizen of Rouen is always 
something gigantically overwhelming and pyramidally inane. 
For the rest, I hardly ever see any of them, but it is none the 
less humiliating to reflect that one breathes the same air.' 

The Breton expedition did get accomplished. Maxime 
Ducamp has given an account of it in his Souvenirs 
Litteraires, and the two friends wrote a description of it in 
alternate chapters. The portions written by Flaubert have 
been published since his death ; those that proceed from the 
hand of Ducamp are for the present in a state of prudent 
suppression ; the complete copy of the work has probably 
since his death been deposited in some public library, 
whose identity is for the present veiled from us. ' Once we 



70 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

had the idea of publishing it under the title chosen by 
Flaubert, Par les Champs et par les Grcves. We recoiled 
before the necessity of corrections. Under pretext of being 
humorous, and that nothing should be softened down, we 
had softened so little, that we had softened nothing. We 
had emptied our bag of nonsense, which was fully furnished. 
The book is aggressive, touches on everything, proceeds by 
digressions, speaks of the right of domiciliary visits in con- 
nection with Notre Dame d'Auray, of the Chamber of Peers 
in talking of the battle of the Thirty, attacks men and 
books, reduces the human ideal to a literary ideal, mixes 
lyrical exaltation with satire, if not invective, and was made 
to remain what it is : a manuscript in two copies. '' 

Shade of Flaubert ! ' Reduces the human ideal to a 
literary ideal ! ' 

It seems that the indiscretions of this volume must rest 
chiefly with Maxime Ducamp, for there is nothing so very 
terrible in the published work of Flaubert. 

The friends travelled in the only way in which travelling 
is really delightful : knapsack on back, independent of 
hotels, and public conveyances of all sorts. Brittany was 
then more foreign to France than even Cardiganshire to 
England ; passports had to be examined ; and the misgivings 
of Custom-house officials to be encountered. Mere travellers 
were naturally objects of suspicion. 'A custom-house officer 
submitted us to a formal inquiry and searched our knap- 
sacks. He was a little put out of countenance : with a 
coaxing air he said to us under his breath : " All the same, 
tell us who you are." Flaubert whispered to him : " A 
secret commission." We were going down towards Morbihan, 
when the Custom-house officer caught us up out of breath. 
" Tell the King not to come here," said he ; " the country is 
not safe, there are still chouans.'''' ' 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 71 

Flaubert was not always a comfortable fellow traveller. 
' Between Ploermel and Josselin, at the Halfway Oak, 
Flaubert suddenly cried, " Beaumanoir drink thy blood ! " 
Then rememberino; the lord of Tintemar and the " childe " 
Bembro, he tried to deliver a blow with his stick on my 
knapsack, which I received on the arm. I begged him to 
hit less hard, and he replied : " You are only middle-class 
after all, you don't understand the fight of the Thirty ; I 
think it prodigious." Near Mont St. Michel, on the islet of 
Tombelaine, where Montgomery fortified himself, he wanted 
to represent the tournament of the twenty-ninth of June 
1559 ; as the part of Henry the Second would have been 
reserved for me, I refused. Flaubert said to me : " Ah ! — 
one can easily see that you do not care about history ! " 
Were we mad ? It is quite possible.'' 

But these sufferings were small compared with those 
inflicted upon poor Ducamp by the 'young phenomenon.'' 
At a fair at Guerand the travellers came upon a man who 
was showing a monstrosity — or a pair of monstrosities — for 
authorities differ on this point. According to Ducamp, the 
* young phenomenon '' was a sheep with five legs and a stiff 
tail ; according to Flaubert there Avere two, — a cow and a 
sheep, 'wearing one arm, four shoulders'" as the showman 
stated. Flaubert fell in love with the ' young phenomenon''; 
made much of the showman ; would have him to dine, when 
he got abominably drunk ; encouraged him to write to King- 
Louis Philippe ; declared that he would make his fortune. 
For days the joke lasted. He could talk of nothing but the 
' young phenomenon ' ; would stop in the middle of the road 
and exhibit poor Ducamp, in the style of the showman, to 
the trees and hedges as the ' young phenomenon."' At Brest 
he encountered the ' young phenomenon '' again, who had 
united his, or their, forces with a dancing bear, some per- 



72 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

forming dogs, a donkey — whose business it was to be baited — 
and a pack of fighting mongrels. Again the hospitaHties of 
Flaubert proved too much for the sobriety of the showman. 

A year later, Maxime Ducamp was lying ill at Paris, 
having been wounded in the tumults of '48 ; he was one day 
disturbed by hearing a strange confusion of sounds on his stair- 
case, — pushing, struggling, bleating, suppressed explosions. 
Suddenly the door flew open, and Flaubert appeared : 'Gentle- 
men, allow me to introduce to you the " young phenomenon ""; 
it is three years old, has been approved by the Academy of 
Medicine, and been honoured by the presence of several 
crowned heads."* Flaubert had discovered his old friend at 
a fair in some part of Paris, and spent a hundred francs for 
the pleasure of this private exhibition. When Flaubert was 
tickled by anything that amused him extremely, he let 
nobody off"; he repeated his joke with roars of gigantic 
laughter to anybody and everybody. If you failed to perceive 
the humour of the situation, he became extremely angry and 
called you ' a middle-class person,"" his most contemptuous 
term of abuse. 

Among Flaubert"'s descriptions and reflections in Par les 
Champs et par les Greves^ the following are noteworthy in 
the admirer of the ' young phenomenon "* : — 

* A singular charm breathes from these humble churches. It 
is not their poverty that moves us, for one would say that they 
are inhabited, even when no one is present in them. Is it not 
rather their modesty that enraptures ? For with their low 
belfries, their roofs hiding under the trees, they seem to make 
themselves small, and humiliate themselves beneath God's great 
sky. Indeed they have not been built from any motive of 
pride, or from a pious whim of some great one of the earth in 
his agony. On the contrary we feel that tliey are the simple 
expression of a need, of the honest cry of a desire, and like the 
shepherd's bed of dry leaves, they are the shelter that the soul 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 73 

has made to stretch itself at ease in its hours of fatigue. These 
village churches in a greater degree than those of towns, have 
the air of belonging to the character of the country which bears 
them, of sharing more in the life of the families, who from 
father to son, come to the same spot, there to place their knees 
on the same stones. Every Sunday, every day, coming in and 
going out, do they not see and see again the graves of their 
relatives, whom they thus have near them at their prayers, as at 
a larger home from which they are never quite absent ? These 
churches then have a sense of a harmony which, enclosed 
between the baptistry and the graves, completes the life of 
these men. It is not so with us, who driving eternity beyond 
the walls, exile our dead to the suburbs to lodge them in the 
knacker's quarters in the midst of chemical works, and beside 
artificial manure stores.' 

Again, talking of the Lady Chapel of Pont L'^Abbe : — 

' Man brings here all the sensuality of his heart, suppressed 
by the climate, starved by poverty, and deposits it at the feet 
of Mary under the eyes of the divine woman, and thus satisfies 
and excites his inextinguishable thirst for enjoying and loving. 
The rain may come in through the roof, there may be neither 
forms nor chairs in the nave, none the less you will eveiywhere 
find this chapel of the Virgin shining, scrubbed, neat with fresh 
flowers and burning tapers. There the whole religious tender- 
ness of Bidttany seems to concentrate itself; there is the softest 
comer of her heart, her weakness, her passion, her ti-easure. 
There may be no flowers in the fields, but there are some in the 
church ; man is poor, but the Virgin is rich ; ever beautiful, she 
smiles for you, and souls in pain go to warm themselves at her 
knees as at a hearth that never cools. We are astonished at 
the earnestness of the people in its beliefs; but does one 
know all the delight, all the joy that they give, all the pleasure 
that is drawn from them ? Is not asceticism a superior Epicur- 
eanism, fasting the refinement of good living ? Religion has in 
it almost carnal sensations ; prayer has its debauchery, morti- 
fication its raptures, and the men who come in the evening to 
kneel before this dressed statue feel thei*e, too, heart -beatings 
and wild intoxication, while in the streets the children of the 



74 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

town coming back from school, stop thoughtful and awe- 
stricken to look at the woman glowing in the window who 
gazes down upon them with her gentle eyes.' 

At St. Malo the friends visited the tomb of Chateau- 
briand, placed on the precipitous side of a small island in 
the bay facing the west. 

'There he will sleep, his head turned to the west, in the 
tomb built on a cliff, his immortality will be like his life, 
deserted of all and surrounded by storms. The waves with 
the centuries will long murmur round this great monument ; 
they will spring to his feet in the tempests, or in the summer 
mornings, when the white sails are spread and the swallow 
comes from beyond the seas, long and gentle, they will bring 
him the voluptuous melancholy of distances, and the caress of 
the open air. And the days thus slipping by, while the 
billows of his native beach shall be for ever swinging between 
his birthplace and his tomb, the heart of Rene, cold at last, will 
slowly crumble into nothingness to the endless rhythm of that 
eternal music' 

Louis Bouilhet once said of Flaubert, ' There is a curse 
upon him ; the man is a lyric poet, and cannot write a verse.' 
In reading such passages as the above we feel the lyrical 
tendency, and since Flaubert has left no verses behind him, 
will do wisely to accept the remainder of Bouilhet\s state- 
ment. 

In the same volume in which these poetical fragments 
occur there is an equally poetical description of a slaughter- 
house ; and there can be no doubt that Flaubert would 
have protested that the Breton churches, the tomb of 
Chateaubriand, the low quarters of Brest, and the slaughter- 
house, were alike worthy of the artist's pen and pains ; that 
the description of a disembowelled ox is neither more nor 
less artistic, provided it be well executed, than the descrip- 
tion of a fine man stepping out of the sea after a bathe, or 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 75 

of a castle which has been the home of one of the makers of 
romance. 

At this period of his Hfe, and at times during all his life, 
Flaubert was undoubtedly contrary ; he deliberately said 
and wrote things which he knew would be shocking to 
others, but which were not shocking to himself. In this 
there was a certain amount of temper ; the man felt himself 
to be what he was, large-hearted, affectionate, brave, honest, 
unselfish and pure, but he was not conventional ; that is to 
say, he did not accept as final the inconsistent, fluctuating 
and yet dogmatic views of the society in which he lived, on 
questions of morality and questions of taste. He was a 
citizen not only of the world in which he lived, but of all the 
world that has ever been. Aristophanes and Horace were 
not to him books more or less well printed and bound in 
calf ; they were men — living men, honest men, good men — 
men Avho lived in great times, and played a great part in 
those times ; the best specimens of two epochs, when men 
were abnormally active. It seemed to him far less impure 
to talk as they talk, or as Falstaff talks in the Merry Wives 
of Windsor, than to be a smug citizen of Rouen, applauding 
the government for protecting morality, and at the same 
time slily sniggering in coffee-houses about the gay life that 
is led by students at Paris. There is nothing more pitiful 
than the conventional morality of the nineteenth centiu-y. 
It is the age of whitewash ; and, what is worse, the age of 
double entente. The coarsest statement, the grossest act, 
are less demoralising than the dainty allusion, the veiled but 
not hidden vice. All this Flaubert felt, and at the same 
time saw, that it was not universally felt even by his intimate 
friends. Further, on many subjects he was predisposed to 
be less delicate than other people through having been the 
son of a hard-working enthusiastic surgeon, and accustomed 



76 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

from his earliest youth to the talk and the sight of the 
dissecting room. He and his sister, before they were ten 
years old, used to peep through a window and watch their 
father at work. A surgeon, moreover, will speak to you of a 
well-executed dissection as a beautiful thing, beautiful in 
the artistic sense ; and he is right ; the horror with which 
ordinary humanity regards the dissecting table is a weakness 
the result of ignorance ; while the curiosity that is begot of 
this horror is none the less unwholesome. 

A man who deliberately thinks, says, and publishes what 
is impure to himself, is, from every point of view, artistic as 
Avell as moral, indefensible ; but it is quite possible to have 
an entirely different atmosphere from that of the world in 
Avhich one lives ; to see more and more plainly. This was 
eventually Flaubert''s case ; he eventually came to write what 
was repellent to people of narrow experience, without being 
aware of the fact ; was dismayed, aggrieved, when he dis- 
covered what he had done. On the other hand, it is difficult 
to acquit him of having allowed himself to be influenced, in 
the earlier period of his life, by a reaction against the nerve- 
less propriety of the middle-class man. The easy optimism 
of frivolous persons, ready to accept any formula which 
acquits them of the necessity of thinking for themselves, was 
a red rag to Flaubert. He saw the world full of sorrow as 
well as of joy; he saw that the innocent often were brought 
down and in misery, while the guilty flourished ; and he 
became furious with indignation when other people, to 
excuse their slothfulness or cowardice, refused to open their 
eyes to obvious facts. For this reason he invariably rejoiced 
in the discovery of baseness in the great ones of the earth, 
revelled in scandals by which spotless characters were 
suddenly discovered to be inwardly tainted. Such things 
were so many documentary proofs that this is not the best 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 77 

of all possible worlds, but a world of conflicting forces, in 
which good and evil are strangely and inexplicably mingled, 
and in which even the best people act under the influence of 
mixed motives. 

Flauberfs health was much benefited by the tour in 
Brittany ; on the day of starting he was seized with one of 
his ' attacks of nerves,** as he was in the habit of calling them, 
and never again during the three months that the holiday 
lasted. 

Immediately on the return from Brittany, the two friends 
set to work to write their book. Flaubert describes the 
process, in a way which becomes only too familiar as each 
successive work is brought into the world with even greater 
difficulty than its predecessor. 

'You ask me for information about our work, Maxima's and 
mine ; you must know then that I am driven wild by writing ; 
style, which is a thing that I take veiy much in earnest, agitates 
my nerves hon-ibly. I vex myself, I prey on myself, there are 
days when I am quite ill from it, and when I am feverish at 
night. The further I go on the less capable I find myself of 
expressing the idea. What a quaint mania it is to pass one's 
life wearing oneself out over Avords, and sweating all day long 
over arranging sentences ; there are occasions, it is true, when 
one rejoices hugely, but this pleasure is bought at the cost of 
how much discouragement and bitterness .'' To day, for example, 
I have spent eight hours in coiTCcting five pages, and I think 
that I have worked well ; judge of the rest ! it is pitiful. What- 
ever happens I will finish this work, which in its veiy object is a 
hard bit of exercise, then next summer I will see about tempting 
Saint Anthony. If that does not go from the very beginning, I 
have done vnth style for several long years. I will go in for 
Gi'eek, history, archaeology, anything, in short everything easier. 
For I often think the useless trouble, I give myself, stupid.' 

In another passage he compares his difficulties with style 
to those of a man ' who has a correct ear and who plays the 



78 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

violin out of tune, his fingers refuse to produce exactly the 
sound of which he is conscious, " Then the tears flow from 
the eyes of the poor scraper, and the bow falls from his 
fingers."" *" 

Every now and then Flaubert was compelled to breathe 
the same air as the citizens of Rouen at close quarters. Here 
is a description of such an occasion : — 

' I have recently seen something fine, and I am still over- 
powered by the grotesque and at the same time mournful 
impression Avhich this spectacle has left upon me. I have been 
present at a reform dinner ! What taste ! What cookery ! Wliat 
wines ! and what speeches ! Nothing has given me a more 
complete contempt for success, than the contemplation of the 
price at which it is obtained. I remained cold with the nausea 
of disgust in the midst of the patriotic enthusiasm which was 
stirred by " the helm of the state " — " the abyss into which we 
are drifting" — "the honour of our flag" — "the shadow of our 
standards " — " the fraternity of peoples/' and other cakes of the 
same meal. Never will the finest works of the masters receive 
the fourth part of that applause; no book of de Musset will 
ever cause such cries of admiration to be uttered as came from 
all parts of the room to greet the virtuous bellowings of 
M. Odilon Barrot, and the lamentations of M. Cremieuse on the 
state of our finances. And after a session till past nine o'clock 
in front of cold tui'key, sucking pig, and in the company of my 
locksmith, who patted me on the shoulder at the fine passages, 
I came away chilled to the entrails. However dismal one's 
opinion of men may be, bitterness rises in one's heart when 
such delirious inanity is flaunted before you, such a tangle of 
imbecility. In nearly all the speeches there was laudation of 
Beranger. How this good Beranger is ill-used ! I owe him a 
grudge for the adoration which the middle-class minds bestow 
on him. There are people of great talent who have the 
misfortune to be admired by the small natures ; bouilli is 
disagreeable because it is the basis of small housekeeping; 
Beranger is the bouilli of modern poetry; everybody can eat 
of it, and like it.' 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE DEATH OF ALFRED LE POITTEVIN 

During the spring of 1848 it became clear that the days of 
Alfred le Poittevin were numbered. Flaubert and Ducamp 
went to visit him at Neuville ; they found him ' marching 
gaily to death,' the victim of an incurable disease of the 
heart. At parting he asked Ducamp to send him a copy of 
Spinosa from Paris. 

On the third of April 1848 Flaubert wrote the following 
letter to Ducamp : — 

' Alfred died on Monday at midnight ; I buried him yesterday. 
I watched him for two nights ; I wrapped him in his winding 
sheet, I gave him the kiss of farewell, and I saw his coffin 
soldered. I spent two long days thei*e ; while watching him I 
read Kreutzer's Religions of Antiqtdty. The window was open, 
the night was superb, one heard the cock crow, and a moth 
fluttered round the candle. I shall never forget all that, nor 
the appearance of his face, nor the first night, at midnight, the 
distant sound of a hunting horn which came to me through the 
forest. On the Wednesday I went for a walk all the afternoon 
with a bitch that followed me uncalled. This bitch had taken 
a fancy to him and always accompanied him when he went out 
alone. The night before his death she howled horribly and 
could not be silenced. I sat down on the moss in several 
places, I smoked, I looked at the sky, I lay down behind a mass 
of broom tufts and I slept. 

'The last night I read Autumn Leaves; I always pitched upon 
the pieces that he liked the best, or that had for me a bearing 

79 



80 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

upon the present. From time to time I went to lift the veil 
which had been put over his face to look at him. I was 
wrapped in a cloak^ which had belonged to my father, and 
which he only wore once, on the day of Caroline's wedding. 
When the day appeared, towards four o'clock, the watcher and 
I began our work. I lifted him, turned him round and enfolded 
him. The impression of his cold, stiff limbs remained all day in 
my finger ends. He was dreadfully decomposed, we put two 
sheets upon him. When he had been thus arranged he was like 
an Egyptian mummy enclosed in its bandages, and I felt, I 
cannot tell you what a sentiment of joy and liberty for him. 
The mist was white, the forest began to show in outline on the 
sky, the two torches blazed in the dawning whiteness ; birds 
sang, and I i-epeated to myself that phrase of his Belial. 

' " He will go, happy bird, to salute the rising sun amid the 
pine trees " : or rather I heard his voice saying it to me, and the 
whole day I was deliciously possessed by it. They placed him 
in the hall ; the doors were taken off their hinges and the great 
air of the morning came in with the coolness of the rain that 
had begun to fall. He was carried by men to the cemetery ; 
the journey lasted more than an hour. Following behind I 
could see the coffin swing with the movement of a boat that is 
pushed on rollers. The sei'vice was atrocious in its length. At 
the cemetery the earth was moist ; I approached the edge of 
the grave and watched the pellets fall one by one ; it seemed 
to me that there fell a hundred thousand. 

' To return to Rouen I mounted on the box with Bouilhet ; 
the rain fell heavily; the horses went at a gallop, I shouted 
to urge them on ; the air did me worlds of good. I slept all 
that night, and I may say all to-day. 

' That is what I have lived on since Tuesday evening. I had 
unheard of perceptions and inexpressible whirls of ideas ; a 
heap of things came back to me with choirs of music and clouds 
of perfumes. 

' Up to the time when it was impossible for him to do any- 
thing, he used to read Spinosa till one o'clock in the morning, 
every night in bed. On one of the last days when the window 
was opened and the sun came into the room, he said : " Shut 
it ; that is too beautiful, too beautiful." 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 81 

'There were moments, dear Max, when I had singular 
thoughts of you, and made sad comparisons of images. Fare- 
well, I embrace you, and I have a strong wish to see you, for I 
want to tell you things incomprehensible.' 

Thus did the soul of Flaubert find temporary consolation 
in description. He never forgot, never ceased to regret, 
Alfred le Poittevin. 



CHAPTER IX 



THE ST. ANTHONY 



From April 1848 to May 1849 there is a gap in the corre- 
spondence. At this time Flaubert was working hard at the 
St. Anthony, and his health had failed again. Maxime 
Ducamp, with whom he corresponded throughout this period, 
having suppressed the letters, we have no information at first 
hand. 

Early in 1849 Ducamp determined to carry out a project 
which he had long formed : to travel for two or three years 
in the East. He wished to take Flaubert with him, Flaubert 
who had dreamed all his life of ' stirring the sands of Syria 
with his own feet,"" of riding on camels and elephants, of 
watching the sunset behind the pyramids, of bathing in the 
Ganges, and making a pilgrimage to Ceylon, 'which the 
ancients called Taprobana ; what a name ! Taprobana !' The 
mother reluctantly consented ; she could not resist the 
representations made by a man of such high medical 
authority, so old a friend, as Dr. Jules Cloquet. The period 
of departure was fixed for the time when the Temptation 
should be finished. Ducamp patiently waited, and when the 
appointed epoch arrived — the autumn of 1849 — before 
departing to the land of his dreams, Flaubert read his work 
to Ducamp and Bouilhet; up to that time they had been 
entirely ignorant of the nature of the treatment which he 
would give to his subject ; he had refused to confide his plan 



82 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 83 

to them till the whole was finished ; then he would read the 
complete work. 

Early in the autumn Flaubert wrote to Ducamp, 'the 
Temptation is finished, come ! ' Ducamp started at once for 
Croisset ; found Bouilhet already established there ; and the 
reading began. It lasted four days ; eight hours a day ; 
from mid-day till four in the afternoon ; from eight in the 
evening till midnight. At the beginning, Flaubert waving 
the pages above his head, cried : ' If you do not utter howls 
of enthusiasm, the reason is, that nothing is capable of 
moving you."" 

For two-and-thirty hours the friends listened in silence ; 
at the end of each reading Madame Flaubert used to inquire, 
' Well ? ■* and they had no reply to make. Before the last 
sitting Ducamp and Bouilhet conferred privately; they 
determined to give their opinion frankly, without reserve ; 
the question of Flaubert's literary future was at stake. 

' That evening, after the last reading, towards midnight, 
Flaubert tapping on the table said : " Now, it is with the 
three of us, tell me frankly what you think." Bouilhet 
replied : " We think you ought to throw it into the fire and 
never speak of it again." *■ 

A conversation followed, which lasted till eight oVlock in 
the morning ; Flaubert at last, conquered rather than con- 
vinced, gave way. St. Antliony was not burned but con- 
signed to a drawer. As the friends left the room Maxime 
Ducamp thought he saw the flutter of a black dress trailing 
on the staircase, and that it was Madame Flaubert, whose 
maternal love had driven her to listen for the end of the 
conference. He gratuitously assumes that she came to the 
conclusion that the friends were jealous of her son. 

In 1869, after the publication of Salammbo, Flaubert 
again took up the St. Anthony/, and again put it aside; 



84 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

in 1876 lie started afresh ; and this time the work was 
pubHshed. 

Though the piibHcation of the St. Antliony belongs to the 
end of Flaubert's life, its creation, the influences under which 
it was composed, belong to the beginning of his career ; and 
though the work that we have is considerably reduced in 
bulk from that to which Ducamp and Bouilhet listened in 
silence for two-and-thirty hours, its merits and defects are 
obviously the same. 

The Temptation of St. Antliony is a succession of dissolv- 
ing views, a pageantry of rich fancies, in which all the fables 
that have haiuited the human brain take shape, and are 
marshalled before the mystified saint. 

The scene opens at sunset ; the holy man is watching the 
departure of the great planet from a platform on the side of 
a mountain in the Thebaid. In one direction he sees the 
fertile level valley of the Nile, and the mighty river shining- 
like a lake on the horizon ; in the other the desert stretches 
its monotonous billows of yellowish grey to the feet of the 
Libyan mountains, whose outlines are slightly softened by 
violet mists ; in the intervening space floats a fine dust of 
gold melting in the vibrations of light. 

St. Anthony expresses disgust with life ; reviews the past, 
and regrets the past content. Night comes ; a wedge-shaped 
flight of swift-winged birds passes overhead ; he wishes he 
could follow them. In the vague whiteness of the night 
appear pointed noses, upright ears, gleaming eyes; there is 
a sound of moving gravel. St. Anthony advances ; it is a 
troop of jackals, they skurry off", all except one ; the saint 
would like to stroke him, but the animal makes off*; again the 
bitterness of solitude. The stars appear, and on the platform 
falls the shadow of a great cross ; the saint withdraws into 
his hut and reads the Scriptures ; he begins to wonder by 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 85 

what power Jesus resisted the temptations of the devil, and 
Solomon those of the Queen of Sheba. The former clearly, 
because he was God, the latter because he was a magician ; 
what a sublime science is magic ! As the saint allows his 
imagination to dwell on it, the shadow of the cross changes 
its forms; the amis become two horns ; St. Anthony horrified, 
calls to heaven for help, and the shadow resumes its original 
shape. The saint rises; again his past triumphs recur to 
him ; he thinks he sees a procession winding its way to the 
mountain, possibly a wealthy female penitent coming to ask 
for comisel ; he hopes it may be so, calls out and gives 
directions as to the path ; echoes answer him, and he 
distinguishes other voices, as if the air were speaking, which 
offer him the love of women, wealth, military glory, popu- 
larity, rest, satisfied vengeance. Then things change ; the 
palm-tree at the edge of his platform becomes the gigantic 
bust of a Avomaii leaning over the abyss ; phantoms float past 
him, showing against the night like scarlet paintings on ebony ; 
terrified, fatigued, exhausted, the saint falls upon his mat. 

Then there appears upon the earth a vast shadow, more 
subtile than other shadows, with uncertain edges ; it is the 
Devil leaning on the roof of the hut with huge bat wings 
outspread, under which nestle the seven deadly sins. 
St. Anthony dreams that he is floating away in a boat on 
the flowery Nile ; he wakes, is thirsty, finds his pitcher 
broken; is hungry, the jackals have taken his loaf; then 
there arises before him the image of a rich banquet ; he 
recognises the wile of the Tempter ; but even as he con- 
gratulates himself upon his deliverance, he stumbles over a 
metal cup. He lifts it ; coins pour from it, jewels, infinite 
wealth ; he flings himself upon the heap of riches ; finds 
nothing ; seizes his knife ; it slips from his hand ; he falls 
against the side of his cabin in a trance. 



86 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

He is transported in the spirit to Alexandria, to Con- 
stantinople, where the Emperor places his own diadem upon 
him ; he finds himself in a hall where a king feasts with his 
courtiers ; the king is Nebuchadnezzar ; Anthony watches 
him and reads his thoughts, they become his own thoughts ; 
he is himself Nebuchadnezzar, disgusted with the abject 
crowd of flatterers who surround him; he longs to wallow in 
baseness, to degrade before men the object of their fears; 
he flings himself on all fours on the table, and bellows like 
a bull. He has fallen in his own cabin, and wakes. 

Horrified at the sinful vision he implores pardon, and 
inflicts penance ; while he is still vigorously scourging 
himself, and to his dismay finding pleasure in the blows, the 
procession of the Queen of Sheba arrives. She offers him all 
that the heart of man can desire, or imagine it desires, 
including her love. He rejects her. When she has dis- 
appeared, St. Anthony discovers a strange figure squatting at 
the threshold of his cabin ; it proves to be Hilarion, his 
former pupil, who gives Anthony a flattering description of 
his own life ; the saint becomes uplifted with pride of 
intellect; Hilarion dexterously takes advantage of this 
weakness to insinuate the scientific baselessness of his faith, 
reproaches him with his idleness in not studying its origins ; 
he takes a pen from his belt, and, with a roll of papyrus 
in his hand, prepares to take down the words of wisdom 
that drop from Anthony's lips. The saint maintains the 
authority of Scriptia-e ; Hilarion points out its contradic- 
tions ; Anthony longs for wider knowledge, and Hilarion 
leads him into a vast hall in which all the heresies are 
disputing. The heresiarchs pass in turn before Anthony, 
their attendants behind them practising the rites of their 
particular heresy. First comes the ]irophet Manes, en- 
throned, with his ninety-five disciples around him, all 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 87 

gleaming with oil, thin and very pale ; the Priseillanians, 
who believed that the Devil created the world ; Valentinians, 
who declared it to be the work of a God in delirium ; the 
Carpocratians ; the Nicolaitans ; the Messalians, who held 
work to be sinful ; the Paternians, who thought that the 
inferior parts of the body were made by the Devil, and 
therefore eat, drink, and debauch themselves. 

Tertullian strides in, clothed in a Carthaginian mantle, 
and denounces the heresiarchs ; reveals their previous history. 
All flee, and in the place of Tertullian is seen a beautiful 
woman ; it is Priscilla, the prophetess, the companion of 
Montanus ; close to her appears Maximilla, his other 
companion, eventually Montanus himself. Follow the 
Arcontics in hair shirts, the Tatianians in garments of reeds, 
the Valesians, who emasculate themselves ; the Cainites, 
who worship Cain, and Judas, by whose agency the death of 
Christ was brought about, and the consequent Redemption. 
Then a tumultuous band clothed in wolf-skins, wearing 
crowns of thorns and armed with clubs, rush in ; they are 
the Circoncellions, who wish to reduce everything to one 
dead level of ruin. The hall is filled with tumult ; after a 
while, peace is restored, and Arius is heard disputing with 
Sabellius ; all the heretics take part in the discussion, they 
vaunt again and again to Anthony their martyrs, their 
ecstasies, their prayers, their raptures ; they brandish before 
him their gospels : the gospel of the Hebrews, the gospel of 
the Lord, the gospel of Thomas. 

Then Anthony is dragged roughly into another hall ; there 
he sees a long chrysalis of the colour of blood; it has the head 
of a man, surrounded by rays, and the word Knouphis 
written in Greek characters upon it. On the walls of the 
room are medallions representing the heads of animals, an 
ox, a lion, an eagle, a dog, an ass. Men and women sit 



88 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

huddled together in silence, distinguishable by the glimmer- 
ing light from some clay lamps hung under the images on 
the walls. They talk under their breath of their homes, of 
their families, of imminent persecution ; boast of the ease 
with which the Pagans are deceived, who believe that they 
worship Knouphis ; suddenly an Energumen stands up and 
chants their profession of faith ; in its pauses they rock 
themselves and sing in cadence, Kyrie Eleison. At length 
the Energumen performs the incantations of a snake-charmer, 
and chants the praises of the serpent elevated by Moses in 
the wilderness, drunk by the Messiah in the water of 
Baptism. A sod of turf is brought and held to a huge 
basket, which stands ornamented with flowers in the midst 
of the hall, and a monstrous python slowly emerges, to be 
caressed with rapture by the faithful Ophidians. St. Anthony 
swoons with horror ; as he recovers, he sees the Nile winding 
like a vast serpent between its sands. 

Again he is transported, this time to the vaults of the 
Colosseum ; he is with the Martyrs, who shrink from 
martyrdom, but recover to curse a Montanist who is dis- 
covered among them. Drugs are given them which they 
eagerly swallow ; they pass in to the arena ; Anthony finds 
himself, in the darkness of night, in the burial-ground of the 
Martyrs ; noble women come secretly to mourn over their 
tombs ; others bring wine and food for the dead, and practise 
heathen rites over the graves of their kindred. As the 
moniing dawns they disperse ; and Anthony is transported 
to India, where he watches the self-oblation of a gymno- 
sophist. 

Again he wakes in his hut. A fire approaches ; it proceeds 
from a bronze vase carried by a man followed by a woman ; 
the flame is blue and fluttering ; the man is Simon Magus ; 
the woman Ennoia, who has been Helen of Troy, Lucretia, 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 89 

Delilah, the ]Moon. Simon Magus vaunts his magic powers ; 
prepares to bestow on Anthony the second baptism, the 
baptism of fire ; the saint in despair cries for holy Avater ; 
the mysterious fire passes away in smoke ; Simon and 
Ennoia disappear. 

The smoke has become a thick mist ; Anthony is lost ; 
stretches out his arms in vain to grasp the cross; a wind 
rises, the mist is dispersed, and a gloriously beautiful youth 
appears, his fair long hair descending upon his shoulders ; he 
is attended by a short snub-nosed man of simple countenance. 
These are Apollonius of Tyana, the worker of miracles, and 
his faithful Damis. 

Damis and Apollonius tell their story turn about ; Damis 
proves to be a kind of Sancho Panza, and continually inter- 
rupts his companion to compel Anthony's admiration, who 
listens to the tale with impatience, and frequently orders the 
strangers off the premises. Apollonius eventually offers to 
show Anthony Jesus in person, whereupon the saint falls at 
the foot of the cross in prayer, and Apollonius and his com- 
panion, loudly contemptuous of his brute superstition, float 
off into the air and disappear. 

Apollonius had awakened in Anthony the sin of curiosity ; 
he wishes to know something of the pagan gods. They pass 
before him : the antediluvian gods, formless or hideous ; 
Vishnu and the Hindu hierarchy of divinities ; Buddha 
himself, who tells his story, while Hilarion points out the 
similarities with the incidents of the Gospels. The Hindu 
gods disappear in smoke as Buddha ends his tale, which 
Hilarion declares to be the faith of hundreds of millions of 
men. 

A mysterious creature follows. It has the head of a man 
and the body of a fish ; it advances upright, flapping with its 
tail ; it has small arms, a patriarchal countenance. St. 



90 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

Anthony laughs. The figure deprecates ridicule, and an- 
nounces itself as Oannes, an ancient god of the Chaldeans. 
This suggests Babylon to the saint, who is transported to 
the temple of Belus, and the garden of Ashtaroth. Ormuz 
appears, and is driven away by Ahriman ; the great Diana of 
the Ephesians bewails the loss of her divinity ; a procession of 
the votaries of the great mother enters and performs her rites. 

The scene returns to Egypt ; and in the far distance, on 
the other side of the Nile, a woman stands veiled, bearing an 
infant. It is Isis ; she lifts her head to heaven and her voice 
is heard, as she tells of the loss of Osiris, and of the Egyptian 
worshippers. 

The gods of Olympus are then revealed, seated in majesty 
on their thrones. Their beauty moves Anthony, Hilarion 
praises them ; points out the details in their worship which 
correspond with the Christian faith ; Anthony, in hoiTor, 
recites the Apostles' Creed. Then Olympus is stirred ; a 
voice is heard, indistinct and terrible, like the roaring of 
waves, the sound of the forest in the storm, the bellowing of 
the wind among precipices ; it is the cry of the older gods, 
of the Titans, announcing the end of the dynasty of Jove. 
Jupiter comes down from his throne, his thunder-bolt is 
extinguished in smoke ; Minerva, Hercules, Pluto, Diana, 
Mars, Bacchus, Apollo, Aphrodite herself, pass into the abyss. 

A procession winds its way among the rocks, formed of all 
the divinities that men have ever worshipped, the spirits 
they have feared. The gods of Scythia, of the Cimmerians, 
of the Etrurians ; the ancient Latin gods ; the household 
gods of Rome ; even the god Crepitus, 

Last of all is heard a clap of thunder, and a voice : — 

* I was the God of armies, the Lord, the Lord God. 
' I spread the tents of Jacob upon the hills, and nurtui'ed my 
people as they fled in the sands. 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 91 

' I am He who burned Sodom ; who made the Deluge swallow 
the earth. It is I who drowned Pharaoh, with the princes, the 
sons of kings, the chariots of war and the horsemen. 

' A jealous God, I hated other gods. I crushed the impure ; 
I beat down the proud : and my desolation ran from the right 
hand to the left, like a dromedaiy that is set loose in a field of 
corn. 

' To deliver Israel I chose the simple. Angels with wings of 
flame spoke to them in the bushes. 

' Perfumed with nard, with cinnamon, with myrrh, with trans- 
parent robes, and high-heeled shoes, women, brave in heart, 
went to slay captains. The wind, as it passed, carried away my 
prophets. 

' I had graven my law upon tables of stone. 

' It shut in my people as in a citadel. They were my people, 
and I was their God. The earth was mine, the men were mine, 
with their thoughts, their works, their labouring tools, and their 
posterity. 

' My ark rested in a three-fold sanctuary, behind curtains of 
purple and burning lamps. I had a whole tribe, who swung 
censers, to serve me, and the High Priest in a robe of hyacinth, 
bearing on his breast precious stones, arranged in order of 
symmetry. 

' Woe ! Woe ! The Holy of Holies is opened, the veil is 
torn, the odours of sacrifice are lost in all the winds. The jackal 
howls in the sepulchres ; my temple is destroyed, my people are 
scattered. 

'They have strangled the priests with the girdles of their 
garments. The women are captives ; the precious vessels are 
melted ! 

' (^The voice passing into the distance.) 

' I was the God of armies, the Lord, the Lord God. 

' {Then there is a vast silence ; a night of deep darkness.) 

' Anthony. All are passed. 

' A Voice. I remain. 

' [And Hilarion is before him, but transfigured, like an arch- 
angel, beaming with light as the sun, and so tall that Anthony 
throws back his head to look up at him.] 

' Anthony. Who then art thou .^ 



92 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

* HiLARioN. My kingdom is of the measure of the Universe ; 
and my desire has no ends. I move always, setting free the 
mind and weighing worlds, without hate, without fear, without 
pity, without love, and without God, I am called Science. 

' Anthony (starling back). Thou shouldst rather be . . . the 
Devil. 

' HiLARioN (Jixing on him his glowing eyes). Dost thou care to 
see him ? 

* The saint gives way to his curiosity, and the Devil picking 
him up on liis horns flies away with him into space. 

' The vast wings of the Devil conceal him from Anthony, who 
feels as though he were floating on a cloud ; the desert becomes 
a yellow stain on the earth's surface, the ocean a puddle. 
Anthony wishes to see the mountains, behind which the sun 
sets; the devil speaks; "The sun never sets" : the voice does 
not startle Anthony, it seems like an echo of his own thought. 
Soon the earth is a ball ; it is seen turning on its poles in the 
midst of the azure, rushing round the sun ; again the voice says ; 

' " Humble thyself, pride of man ; the earth is not the centre 
of the Universe." ' 

They arrive at the moon, which proves to be desei't ; glide 
through the fields of stars. Sometimes a comet passes them, 
then the calm of the numberless lights is restored. Anthony 
makes out the paths of the stai's, the interlacing of their orbits, 
he despises the limitation of his old imaginings ; at last, over- 
burdened with the majesty of infinity, he asks, ' What is the 
object of all that ? ' 'It has no object,' is the reply. 

The Devil describes suns beyond suns, solar systems beyond 
solar systems ; and Anthony, oppressed and terrified, cries, 
' Enough, enough, I am afraid. I am falling into the abyss.' 

'The Devil (stopping and balancing himself softly on his wings). 
The Nothing is not ! The Void is not ! Everywhere there 
are bodies which move on the immovable background of space ; 
— and if that were limited by anything, it would be no longer 
Space, but a body ; it has no bounds. 

' Anthony (in amazement). No bounds ! 

' The Devil. Rise into the sky for ever and for ever ; thou wilt 
never reach the summit ! Descend below the earth for milliards 
and milliards of centuries, thou wilt never touch the bottom ; 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 93 

for there is no bottom, no summit, no height, no depth, no 
bound ; and Space is comprised in God, who is not a portion of 
space, so much, or so much less greatness, but the Infinite ! 

' Anthony {slowly). Matter then ... is part of God ? 

' The Devil. Why not ? Can'st thou know where He ends ? 

'Anthony. On the contrary, I humble myself, I abase 
myself before His power ! 

'The Devil. And yet thou wouldst bend Him! Thou 
speakest to Him, thou adornest Him even with virtues, with 
kindness, justice, mercy, instead of recognising that He 
possesses all perfections ! 

'To conceive more than that, is to conceive God beyond 
God, being beyond being. He is then the only Being, the only 
Substance. 

' If Substance could be divided, it would lose its nature, it 
would be no longer itself, God would exist no more. It is then 
indivisible, as it is infinite ; and if He had a body. He would 
be composed of parts. He would no longer be one. He would 
no longer be infinite. He is then not a person. 

' Anthony. What ! My prayers, my sobs, the sufferings of 
my flesh, the raptures of my ardour, all that — has gone to a lie 
— into space . . . uselessly — like the cry of a bird, like a whirl 
of dead leaves. {He weeps.) Oh no ! There is above every- 
thing, some one, a great Soul, a Lord, a Father, whom my heart 
adores, and who must love me ! 

' The Devil. Thou desirest that God should not be God ; for 
if He felt love, anger, or pity. He would pass from His perfec- 
tion to a greater or smaller perfection. He cannot descend to 
a sentiment ; or limit Himself in a form. 

'Anthony. One day however, I shall see Him. 

'The Devil. With the blessed, wilt thou not.^ When the 
finite will enjoy the infinite in a restricted place enclosing the 
absolute ! 

'Anthony. I care not, there must be a heaven for good, 
and a hell for evil. 

' The Devil. Do the requirements of thy reason make the 
law of things ? Doubtless evil is indifferent to God since the 
earth is covered with it ! Is it from impotence that He endures 
it .'' Or from cruelty that He maintains it ? Thinkest thou that 



94 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

He is continually busying Himself with re-adjusting the Universe 
as an imperfect -work, and that he watches over all the move- 
ments of all beings, from the flight of the butterfly to the 
thought of man ? 

' If He created the Universe, His providence is superfluous. 
If Providence exists, the creation is defective. 

' But good and evil have to do with thee alone, — as night and 
day, pleasure and pain, death and birth, which are in relation 
to one corner of space, to a special environment, to a particular 
interest. Since the Infinite alone is permanent, there is 
Infinity ; and that is all. 

' (The Devil has spread his long wings further and further, and 
now tliey cover space.) 

' Anthonv (710 longer sees. He faints). A homble dread chills 
me to the bottom of my soul. It surpasses the power of my 
pain. It is as a death deeper than death. I stand in the 
immensity of darkness. Darkness enters into me. My con- 
sciousness breaks under this expansion of nothingness ! 

'The Devil. But things happen to thee only by the inter- 
vention of thy mind. As a concave mirror it defoiTns what it 
reflects : and means fail thee to verify its exactness. 

' Never wilt thou know Space in its full extent ; consequently 
canst thou not form any idea of its cause, have an exact notion 
of God, nor even say that the Universe is infinite, — for first 
wouldst thou need to know Infinity. 

' Form is perhaps an error of thy senses, Substance an 
imagination of thy thought. 

' Unless, the Universe being a perpetual flowing and reflowing, 
the appearance to the contraiy is the truest that there is, the 
illusion the only reality. 

' But art thou sure of seeing } Art thou even sure of living } 
Perhaps nothing is ! 

' ( The Devil has seized St. Anthony ; and holding him at arm's 
length, he glares at him with open maw, ready to devour him.) 

' Adore me then ! and curse the phantom that thou callest God ! 

' {Anthony in a last movement of hope raises his eyes to heaven. 
The Devil leaves him.) ' 

At this point we feel that the visions are ended ; Anthony 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 95 

has been tempted by the kist of carnal delights, by the lust 
of money, by the lust of power, by the lust of the imagina- 
tion ; he has been shown all the variations of his own creed, 
the creeds of other peoples, the beauty of the gods of Greece, 
the homely superstitions of Italy ; at last he has been con- 
fronted with Science, which bids him humble himself before 
the futility alike of these, and of his own faith, to which he 
still clings, not by the force of reason, but by the strength 
of an habitual sentiment. Now is the time to be rewarded 
by the final apparition. But no, Flaubert has not yet emptied 
his bag of monstrosities : Death and Debauchery court the 
saint, wearied after his struggle with the Devil ; the Sphinx 
and Chimaera argue in his presence ; the Gryphon appears, 
and other less familiar monsters, the Zadhuzag, the Unicorn, 
the Catoblepas, the Basilisk, Pigmies, the men who rest 
beneath the shadows of their own feet, which turn into a 
forest wherein the Cynocephali leap and bound ; all sea 
beasts ; things that are neither animal nor vegetable. 
Anthony enraptured with the various forms of life, thinks 
he is assisting at its beginning ; wishes to be all forms him- 
self, to descend to the beginnings of matter — to be matter — 
when ' the day at last appears, and, as when the curtains are 
lifted from a tabernacle, clouds of gold rolling away in heavy 
spirals disclose the sky. In the very centre, in the very disc 
of the sun, beams the face of Jesus Christ. Anthony makes 
the sign of the cross and returns to his prayers."' 

Were Bouilhet and Ducamp right in their summary, com- 
plete, final condemnation of this work ? 

Its defects must have been far more apparent in the 
original and longer form ; but it was always susceptible of 
reduction. Would it not have been better to advise ' nonum 
prematur in annum,'' to have put it aside, and to have 
returned to it when it had become unfamiliar ? 



96 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

Ducamp's criticism is unsympathetic and pedantic. ' Under 
the pretext of pushing romanticism to its furthest limits, 
Flaubert, without suspecting it, had taken a retrograde step.' 

This was not a question of romantic and classic ; it was a 
question whether Flaubert had succeeded in realising his 
literary dream of a prose poem, whether a form, almost 
peculiar to himself, had acquired the necessary substance to 
take its place as a ^\ ork of art. 

To judge such a work it must be judged from the author's 
point of view, and not from any preconceived notions of 
what is and what is not admissible in art. Flaubert's idea 
was to write a dream which should pass like a flash, — all in 
one breath ; the reader was to be carried on from one 
glorious vision to another without respite, without thought ; 
at the same time he was to be reduced, mentally, to St. 
Anthony's condition ; to be in the fourth century a.d., with 
no knowledge that would make the existence of the Basilisk 
and the Catoblepas less probable to him than that of the 
elephant and the hippopotamus ; with the inclination to 
marvels, with faith in magic, and accustomed to see pagan 
rites and ceremonies in full activity around him. St. 
Anthony had not the comfortable assurance of the nine- 
teenth century with regard to the futility of Montanus and 
Apollonius ; he had seen men living like the Indian Fakirs, 
and calling themselves Christians ; he had seen devout and 
honovirable women kneeling at the feet of hermits ; he had 
himself seen and defied the devil ; the air for him was full of 
evil spirits. 

Flaubert is unable to maintain the saint's simplicity of 
mind ; sometimes we are St. Anthony, sometimes we are 
criticising St. Anthony, often St. Anthony becomes a mere 
interjection. At times the note of low comedy jars upon us ; 
at others our reveries are disturbed by a sarcastic remark 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 97 

which brings us to earth again ; at times we drop from our 
high visions to the merest bathos. 

Further, to be certain of their effect the allusions in such 
a work should be tolerably familiar ; if explanations are 
required, they should be introduced in an artistic form, as, 
for instance, is excellently well done when the orgies of the 
Ophidians are described ; but we are not affected in any 
way, except to sheer boredom, by pages from Pliny ""s Natural 
History and similar works, such as the following : — 

' All kinds of horrible beasts rise up ; the Tragelaphus, half 
stag half ox ; the MyTmecoleo, lion in front ant behind, whose 
genitals are reversed ; the Python Aksar, sixty cubits long, 
which terrified Moses ; the great weasel Pastinaca, which kills 
trees by its odour ; the Presteros, which renders mad by its 
touch ; the Mirag, a horned hare living in the isles of the sea, 
etc. etc' 

Again, Apollonius is made to say : — 

* We came back by the region of the Aromates, by the land of 
the Gangarides, the promontory of Comaria, the country of the 
Sachalites, the Adramites and the Homerites ; — then across the 
Cassanian mountains, the Red Sea and the island of Topazus, we 
penetrated into Ethiopia, by the kingdom of the Pygmies.' 

Doubtless Flaubert could have given chapter and verse 
for all these names, and have pointed out the correct route 
on a map of the ancient world ; for in these things he was 
conscientious ; but to the ordinary reader, even to the 
ordinary classical scholar, these strings of names mean little 
or nothing ; nor are we all equally in love with the sound of 
Taprobana. In verse we can feel the majesty of ' vast 
Acroceravmian walls'" and revel in the mere sound, without 
requiring to know the locality of the cliffs in question ; but 
in prose we require an association as well as a sound. This 
love of mere names is an inherent vice in Flaubert ; it spoils 

G 



98 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

a good deal of the Anthony^ a good deal more of Salammbo, 
and nearly mars the St. Julien. He had a retentive memory 
for such names, especially when they were associated with 
grotesque facts, and could not be persuaded that for artistic 
purposes they were valueless. He uses them recklessly, as 
for instance : ' The rustic gods withdraw weeping, Sartor, 
Sarrator, Vervactor, Collina, Vallona, Hostilinus, all covered 
with little hooded mantles and carrying a hoe, or a fork, a 
mattock, a pick.' In the same way there is a whole page of 
minor gods whose names and attributes are given, as they 
might be in a folk-lore dictionary. ' You wanted to make 
music, and you have only made a noise,' was a sound 
criticism of the friends. 

A similar defect is the accumulation of grotesque faiths 
and superstitions among the heresies ; Flaubert had a mania 
for the grotesque, he never forgot an illustration of it ; 
often this leads him to a repetition of effects, he will not 
be done with his joke; it is the story of the 'young 
phenomenon."' 

Further, Flaubert had a most unhappy knack of calling 
his books by the wrong names. This is not a Temptation of 
St. Anthony ; it is a Vision of St. Anthony : called by that 
name it is no longer open to the criticism of Ducamp, ' that it 
has no progressive movement. "" If we are not invited by the 
title to expect movement and progress, we can enjoy without 
being disturbed by unfulfilled expectations the words and 
gorgeous phrases that pass ' like a glorious roll of drums, 
through the triumph of his dream.' It is one of Flaubert's 
curious obstinacies that when he had once fixed on a title 
he could not change it. He formed the idea of writing a 
Temptation o/ St. Anthony and a Sentimental Education, 
early in life ; and though the works eventually published 
vmder these titles differed widely in scope from those 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 99 

originally planned, the titles remained, to the confusion of 
the reader and the delight of the malignant critics ; even 
Salammho and Madame Bovary might be named with closer 
reference to their respective subjects, while Bouvard et 
Ptcuchet, which might be the name of a trading firm, tells 
us nothing whatever about the contents of the book. The 
Story of' a Simple Soid, and St. Jidian the Hospitable, are 
alone well named : the third of the short stories might as 
well be entitled Herod Antipas, or John the Baptist, as 
Herodias. 

In spite of these defects the St. Anthony remains the work 
of a giant ; certain thoughts are too big for the ordinary 
forms of art, certain messages have to be conveyed through 
the minds of great men in unfamiliar, incongruous forms. 
Shakespeare had to be disburdened of Lear, Goethe of Faust. 
Let us take what these men have given us and be thankful. 

Criticism is not always an infallible business. Ducamp and 
Bouilhet alike failed to observe that, in the first St. Anthony, 
the pig, who was introduced to be tempted by pride and 
convinced that he would become a wild boar, was a confusion. 
It was St. Anthony of Padua, not St. Anthony of Egypt, 
whose holiness was enhanced by the faithful companionship 
of this delectable animal. 

The work was inspired by Alfred le Poittevin. In the 
long scene with the Devil we trace the influence of those 
long hours of metaphysical discussion with him ; and when 
it was published in 1876 it was dedicated to his memory, 
twenty-eight years after his death. Flaubert's affections 
were permanent. 

The result of the adverse judgment of the friends was, 
that Flaubert determined to write a story in which his 
irrepressible lyrical tendency should find no possible outlet. 
Bouilhet suggested, the day after the reading of St. Anthony 



100 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

was over : ' Why should you not write the story of 
Delaunay ? "* The story of Delaunay is the story of Madame 
Bovary ; Delaunay had been a pupil of Dr. Flaubert, had 
acquired a country practice near Rouen, and had been the 
victim of a worthless wife. This story Flaubert expanded 
into Madame Bovary ; and again by an infelicitous title 
restricted the attention of the reader to what is merely an 
important episode in his work ; diverting him from perceiving 
the width of its scope. 



CHAPTER X 



THE EAST 



On ^Monday, October 29th 1849, Flaubert started from 
Paris for his long-anticipated Eastern tour. He was accom- 
panied by Ducamp, who carried a quantity of the then 
clumsy photographic apparatus ; and by a servant — a 
Corsican named Sassetti — who proved altogether satisfactory. 
His health had been misatisfactory again for the previous 
year ; and we cannot sufficiently admire the devotion of 
Ducamp, who took this responsibility upon himself — the more 
so, that his task was often made extremely depressing by 
Flauberfs home-sickness. He appeared to Ducamp not to 
be enjoying the torn* in the least ; not to be observing ; and 
then at times there were those stupendous jokes. But 
though on the Nile Flaubert talked of the Seine, as on the 
Seine he talked of the Nile, his letters prove that he was 
really keenly observing and delighting in the long-dreamed- 
of East. 

Extracts from his letters will show the way in which the 
journey was affecting him ; also the care with which he 
patiently collected materials for the great Oriental romance 
Avhich he had long been meditating. 

To HIS Mother. 

* Malta. Wednesday night, 7-8 November. 
' Know you one thing, poor dear old woman, one splendid 
fact. I have not been sea-sick. Not a bit (except on leaving 

101 



102 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

Marseilles, where I got rid of a glass of rum, which I had 
swallowed to give me courage). Otherwise during the whole 
of the crossing, that is to say from Sunday morning to this 
evening, I have been one of the sauciest, if not the most saucy 
of the passengers. It has not been the same with Maxime 
and Sassetti, who have shot a sufficient number of cats. As for 
me ! walks on the deck, dinners with the officers, or I stand on 
the bridge between the two paddle-boxes in the company of the 
Captain, where I parade myself in piratical attitudes, my cap on 
one side, my cigar in my beak. I take lessons in navigation, in 
manoeuvring, etc. In the evening I gaze at the waves, and 
meditate, draped in my cloak, like Childe Harold. In short I 
am the real card. I do not know what is the matter with me, 
but I am adored on board. The gentlemen call me Father 
Flaubert, so imposing, as it appears, is my mug upon the briny. 
You see, poor old woman, all is well and the start is good ; but 
don't go and think that the sea has been calm ; on the contraiy, 
the weather has been a bit rough, the east wind delayed us 
twelve hours.' 

The first sight of the East at Alexandria is thus 
described : — 

' When we were two hours from the coast of Egypt I went up 
on to the fore lookout with the boatswain, and saw the seraglio 
of Abbas Pacha like a black dome on the blue sea. The sun 
beat upon it. I saw the East through, or rather in, a great 
silvery light pouring on the sea. Soon the outline of the shore 
was discerned, and the first thing we saw on land were two 
camels led by a driver, and then all along the quay worthy 
Arabs, who were fishing with lines in the most peaceful manner 
in the world, 

' Disembarking was a scene of the most bewildering uproar. 
Negroes, negresses, camels, turbans, whacks dealt right and left 
with guttural cries fit to rend one's ears. I snatch myself a 
bellyful of colours, as an ass fills itself with oats. The stick 
plays a big part here ; everybody, who wears a respectable coat, 
thwacks everyone, who wears a dirty coat ; when I say coat, I 
should say breeches. Numbers of gentlemen are to be seen 
wandering about the streets with nothing on but a shirt and a 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 103 

long pipe. All the women except those of the lowest class are 
veiled, with ornaments on their noses, which hang and swing 
like those on horses' bridles. On the other hand if the face is 
not seen, the whole bosom is exposed. Modesty, changing 
country, changes place, like a muddled ti'aveller who rides now 
on the imperial, now inside. 

' You see that all is going well, poor mother. We are covered 
mth flannel from head to foot. Spirits and health are alike 
good. Maxime watches me, and waits on me as though I were 
a child. I believe he would put me under a glass case if he 
could, for fear something may happen to me.' 

To Louis BOUILHET. 

'Cairo. December 1st, 1849. 

' I begin, my dear old man, with a kiss for your good head, 
and with breathing on to this paper all the inspiration which 
can make your mind come to meet me. For the rest I believe, 
that you must be thinking awfully much of us, for we think 
awfully much of you, and miss you a hundred times a day. At 
the present moment the moon sparkles on the minarets, all is 
silent. From time to time there is a barking of dogs ; in front 
of my window, whose curtains are drawn, I have in the garden 
a black mass of trees, seen in the pale brilliancy of the night. 
I am writing at a square table covered with a green cloth, by 
tlie light of two candles, and taking my ink from a pomatum 
pot. I hear the young Maxime behind the partition messing 
with his photography ; above, the mutes are sleeping, that is to 
say Sassetti and the dragoman, which aforesaid dragoman is, to 
say the truth, one of the most aiTant ruffians one could mention. 

' As for my Excellency, it is clothed in a great Nubian shirt in 
white cotton ornamented with tufts, and of a cut which it would 
take long to describe. My head is completely bare, saving a 
lock on the back of it (it is by this that Mahomed is to lift you 
on the Day of Judgment) and covered with a red tarbouche, 
which simply crackles with scarlet, and for the first few days 
made me crack with heat. We have fairly Oriental mugs. . . . 
And you, poor beloved old sinner, what are you doing in that 
dirty Fathei-land, tenderly dreaming of which I sometimes 
surprise myself .> I think of our Sundays at Croisset, when I 



104 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

used to hear the noise of the iron gate, and to see the stick 
appear, the portfolio and yourself. . . . When shall we resume 
those endless talks at the comer of the fire, sunk in my green 
arm-chairs ? . . . How is Melsenis getting on ? 

' In one word here is my epitome of what I have felt up to 
this point : little surprise at nature, in the way of landscape, sky 
and desert (except the mirage) ; prodigious amazement at the 
towns and the men. Hugo would say : " I was nearer to God 
than to humanity." That doubtless has to do with the fact that 
I had dreamed, studied, and imagined more what has to do with 
horizons, verdure, sand, trees, sun, than houses, streets, customs 
and usages. Nature has been to me something recovered, the 
rest something found. But there is a fresh element, which I 
did not expect to see here, and which is immense, that is the 
grotesque. All the old comedy is here of the bethwacked slave, 
the crusty seller of women, the rascally merchant : very young, 
very true, charming. , . . One of the finest things is the camel. 
I am never tired of seeing this strange animal pass, which struts 
like a turkey, and swings its neck like a swan. They have a cry 
which I wear myself out with trying to reproduce ; I hope to 
bring it back with me, but it is difficult because of a certain 
gurgling, which vibrates at the end of the rattle that they utter.' 

Like all other European travellers Flaubert visited the 
Pyramids, and was fairly terrified by the first apparition of 
the Sphinx ; but he was not content with the sights which 
ordinarily attract Europeans ; he would know the East more 
intimately : dined in Turkish restaurants, where people eat 
with their fingers, men and animals make themselves 
completely at home, and, from time to time, some one stands 
up and says his prayers ; learned the names of foods and 
perfumes, experimented rashly in some of the latter, — all 
with a view to future literary uses. 

' To come back to the life that we lead here, I had a splendid 
afternoon some days back. Maxime had remained busy over 
something. I took Hassan (the second dragoman, whom we 
have temporarily engaged) and made my way to the Coptic 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 105 

bishop to have a talk with him. I went into a square court 
surrounded with columns, in the middle of which there was a 
little garden, that is to say, some large trees, beds of dark 
greeneiy, whose border was formed by a divan in trellised wood. 
My dragoman with his wide drawers and big-sleeved jacket 
walked in front, I behind. On one of the corners of the divan 
Avas seated an old long-robe with a repellent expression, a white 
beard, in a great mantle, and surrounded with books in a 
strange handwriting scattered on all sides. At a certain 
distance stood three doctors in black robes, younger, and with 
black beards. The dragoman said : " Here is a French noble- 
man who is travelling all over the world to learn, and who 
comes to you to talk of your religion." (That is the style in 
which we treat one another. Imagine the phrases that I 
invent. . . .) Well, to return to the bishop. He received me 
with much ceremony ; coffee was brought, and soon I began to 
put questions to him touching the Trinity, the Virgin, the 
Gospels, the Eucharist ; all my old lore of the St. Anthony 
rose like a wave in me. 

' It was superb, the blue sky over our heads, the trees, the 
open books, the old fellow ruminating in his beard to find me 
answers, I beside him, my legs crossed, gesticulating Avith my 
pencil, and taking notes, while Hassan stood up immoveable 
translating viva voce, and the three other doctors seated on 
stools gave opinions with their heads, and from time to time 
interpreted a few words. I thoroughly enjoyed it. That was 
the real East, the land of religion, and ample costumes. When 
the bishop had been floored, one of the doctors took his place, 
and when at last I saw that they all had signs of inflammation 
in the cheeks, I went out. I shall go back, for there is much 
to be learned there. The Coptic religion is the most ancient 
Christian sect there is, and hardly anything is known of it in 
Europe, not to jsay nothing (as far as I know). I shall go in 
the same way to see the Armenians, the Gi*eeks, the Sunnites, 
and above all the Mussulman doctors.' 

Since that time more has been learned of the Coptic 
religion. 

* In Europe people imagine the Arab race to be very grave 



106 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

here it is very gay, very artistic in its gesticulations, and its 
ornaments. Circumcisions and marriages are merely so many 
pretexts for rejoicings and music. It is on those days that is 
heard in the streets the strident clucking of the Arab women, 
who, packed up in veils, with their elbows spread, resemble, on 
their donkeys, black full moons advancing on something inde- 
scribable with four legs. . . . For one who observes things 
with some attention more is to be re-found here, than found. 
A thousand notions, that one had in a state of germ inside one, 
grow and become definite like a renewed reminiscence. 
Accordingly as soon as I disembarked at Alexandria I saw 
advancing towards me in full life the anatomy of the Egyptian 
sculptures, the high shoulders, long chests, thin legs, and so 
forth. The dances, that we have had danced for our benefit, 
have too hieratic a character not to come from the dances of 
the old East, which is always young, because nothing in it 
changes. The Bible is here a picture of contemporary manners. 
Do you know that only a few years ago the murderer of an ox 
was still punished with death, as in the days of Apis ? . . . 
It is almost impossible but that in a short time from now 
England will become the mistress of Egypt : she already has 
Aden filled with troops. The transit of Suez will be very 
convenient to bring you the redcoats to Cairo one fine morning. 
We shall hear of it in France a fortnight later, and we shall be 
very much astonished. Remember my prediction. On the 
first movement in Europe England will take Egypt, Russia 
Constantinople, and we, by way of reprisal, will go and get 
ourselves shot in the mountains of Syria.' 

To Louis BoUILHET. 

'Cairo. January 15, 1850. 
' When we meet again many days will have passed, I mean 
many things. Shall we be still the same ^ Will there be no 
change in the communion of our beings ? I have too much pride 
in ourselves not to think so. Work on — remain what you are. 
Continue your disgusting and sublime way of earning a liveli- 
hood, and then we will see about making the skin of those 
drums sound, which we have long been keeping stretched so 
tight. . . . The second pyramid has its summit all white with 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 107 

the dung of eagles and vultures, who endlessly float around 
the tops of these monuments, which recalled to me the follow- 
ing from St. Anthony: "The gods with ibis'-heads have their 
shoulders whitened by the dung of birds." Maxime kept 
repeating : " I saw the Sphinx fleeing in the direction of Libya. 
It ran like a jackal." 

'The other day I took a bath. I was alone in the recesses 
of the hot room watching the light fall through the glass open- 
ings in the dome. Warm water ran everywhere ; stretched 
out like a calf I thought of a heap of things ; all my pores 
quickly expanded. It is very voluptuous, and there is a certain 
chastened melancholy in thus taking a bath all alone, lost in 
these dim halls, where the least noise sounds like a cannon 
shot, while the naked kellaks call to one another, and turn you 
and twist you like embalmers arranging you for the tomb. 

' By means of bakshish (bakshish and whacks are the basis of 
the Arab, nothing else is undei'stood, and nothing else is seen) 
we have been initiated. 

* Serpents were placed around our necks and hands ; incan- 
tations recited over our heads ; they breathed into our mouths ; 
it was very amusing. The men who exercise such culpable 
industries execute their vile juggleries, as M. de Voltaire used 
to say, with singular skill. . . . We argue Avith priests of all 
religions. It is sometimes really splendid in the way of poses 
and attitudes. We have translations made us of songs, stories, 
traditions, everything that is most popular and oriental. We 
employ learned men — literally. We have our fine touches, 
heaps of impudence, enormous liberty of language. The pro- 
prietor of our hotel even finds that at times we go a little too 
far. One of these days we are going to visit some sorcerers. 
AU with a view to those old aims.' 

To HIS Mother. 

'Cairo. February 3rd, 1850. 
' 1 have caught a bad cold by staying five hours upright on a 
wall to see the ceremony of the Danseh. This is what it is : 
the word " danseh " means " trampling," and never was a name 
better given. It has to do with a man, who passes on horse- 
back over several others crouched on the ground like dogs. At 



108 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

certain epochs of the year this festival is repeated only at Cairo 
in memory of, and to renew the miracle of, a certain holy 
Mussulman, who once entered Cairo marching thus on horse- 
back over earthen vessels without breaking them. The sheik, 
who repeats this ceremony, should wound the men no more 
than the saint broke the earthen vessels. If the men die of itj 
their sins are the cause. I saw dervishes there, who had iron 
spits passed thi-ough their mouths^ and their chests. Oranges 
were spitted at the two ends of the iron rods. The crowd of 
the faithful howled with enthusiasm ; to that you must join 
music savage enough to drive one mad. When the sheik 
appeared on horseback, my gentlemen laid themselves on the 
ground with their heads down ; they were put in rows like 
herrings, and heaped close to one another, so that there should 
be no interval between the bodies. A man walked over them 
to see if the platform of humanity was firm and close, and then 
to clear the course, a hail, a tempest, a hurricane of whacks 
administered by eunuchs began to rain right and left at ran- 
dom, on whatever happened to be there. We were perched 
on a wall, Sassetti and Joseph at our feet. We stayed there 
from eleven till nearly four. It was very cold, and we had 
hardly room to stir, so great was the crowd, and so small the 
place we had taken ; but it was a very good one and nothing 
escaped us. We heard the palm sticks sound dully on the 
tarbouches like the drumsticks on drums full of tow, or rather 
on balls of wool. This is exact. The sheik advanced, his horse 
held by two attendants, and himself supported by two others ; 
and the good gentleman needed it. His hands began to 
tremble, a nervous attack seized him, and at the end of his 
parade, he was almost unconscious. His horse passed at a slow 
walk over the bodies of more than two hundred men lying flat 
on their stomachs. As for how many died of it, it is impossible 
to know anything about them ; the crowd pours in behind the 
sheik in such a way, when once he has passed, that it is no 
easier to know what has become of these unfortunates, than to 
make out the fate of a pin thrown into a torrent. The evening 
before we had been in a convent of dervishes, where we had 
seen some of them fall in convulsions by dint of crying Allah ! 
These are gay sights, and would have made M. de Voltaire 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 109 

laugh hugely. What reflections would he not have made on 
the poor human mind ! fanaticism ! superstition ! It did not 
make me laugh at all. It is too interesting to be terrifying. 
What is most terrible is their music' 

On the sixth of February the friends started up the Nile ; 
these were the days before Cook ; travelling was slower but 
more independent, and the crew of your boat were always at 
hand to afford opportunities for enjoying the grotesque. 
Other travellers have described the Nile, with its shores more 
like ocean-strands than the banks of a river ; its crocodiles, 
storks and distant chain of Arabian mountains ; though 
Flauberfs descriptions bear his own distinctive stamp — 
sudden transitions from the elevated to the vulgar, from the 
sublime to the obscene — there is not much with which we are 
not already familiar. On the way down, at Wadi-Halfa, the 
travellers made the acquaintance of the Governor of Ibrim, 
charged with collecting the taxes in the whole province. 

' That is not a light task. It is executed with plentiful 
relays of thwacks, arrests, and imprisonments. We came down 
side by side with him for three days. A villager had refused 
to pay, the sheik put him in chains^ and carried him off in his 
boat. When he passed near us, we saw the poor old fellow at 
the bottom of the boat, bareheaded and duly padlocked ; on 
the shore men and women followed shouting. That did not in 
the least flurrj^ our good Turk, who, however, thought it prudent 
not to let us get out of sight, hoping that, if by any chance he 
were attacked, we had some good guns which would carry far. 
He came to make calls on us, while descending the Nile like 
ourselves. Once he brought us a present of a small sheep, 
which was distinctly agreeable to us, for we had eaten nothing 
but chicken and turtle doves for six weeks. We had conversa- 
tions with this excellent fellow upon his speciality, that is to 
say, he gave us numbers of details upon the method of killing 
a man with whacks in a fixed number of blows ; they explain 
all that to you very elegantly, laughing, as we talk of the 



110 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

theatre, and carry it into execution very placidly, as a man 
smokes a pipe.' 

On the way down the Nile an expedition was made across 
the desert to Kosseir ; the travellers had a longing to 
contemplate the Red Sea. On this expedition an event 
occurred, which is not mentioned in Flaubert's correspondence, 
but of which Ducamp gives the following account : — 

' During this excursion the only painful incident between 
Flaubert and myself took place ; we remained forty-eight 
hours without speaking to one another. (The evening after 
their departure from Kosseir a camel carrying all their supply 
of water had fallen, and burst all the skins. They were two 
days and a half from the nearest wells on the return journey ; 
but imprudently instead of turning back, trusted to the chance 
of meeting other travellers, and borrowing. In this they were 
disappointed.) After suffering thirst for thirty-six hours, while 
we were passing through a defile, a furnace, formed of granite 
rocks, of a rose colour, covered with inscriptions, Flaubert said 
to me : " Do you remember the lemon ices that one eats at 
Tortoni's .'' " I made a sign of the head in the affirmative. He 
resumed : " Lemon ice is a superior article ; admit that you 
would not be annoyed at having to swallow a lemon ice." 
Roughly enough I replied : " Yes." After an intei-val of five 
minutes : " Ah ! the lemon ices ! All around the glass there 
is a cloud, which is like a white jelly." I said : " Suppose we 
were to change the conversation ? " He replied : " That would 
be better, but lemon ice is worthy of being celebrated : one 
fills the spoon, it makes a little mound, one softly squeezes it 
between the tongue and the palate ; it melts slowly, coolly, 
deliciously ; it bathes the uvula, glides over the tonsils, descends 
into the gullet, which is only too happy, and it falls into the 
stomach which bursts with laughing, so delighted is it. Between 
you and me there is a scarcity of lemon ices in the desert of 
Kosseir ! " 

' I knew Gustave. I knew that nothing could stop him, 
when he was a prey to one of these possessions, and I made no 
answer, in the hope that my silence would make him hold his 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 111 

tongue. It was no use, he began again, and seeing that I said 
nothing, he began to shout : " Lemon ice ! Lemon ice ! " I 
could not stand it any longer ; a horrible thought shook me. 
I said to myself: "I shall kill him." I drove my dromedary 
on, so as to touch him, I took him by the arm : " Where do you 
wish to be, in front or behind ? " He replied : " I will go in 
front." I stopped my dromedary, and when our little troop 
was two hundred yards in front of me, I resumed my march. 
In the evening I left Flaubert in the middle of our men, 
and I went and prepared my bed in the sand more than two 
hundred yards from the camp. At three o'clock in the morn- 
ing we started at the same distance from one another, and 
without having exchanged a word. Towards three o'clock in 
the afternoon the dromedaries lengthened their pace, and 
showed signs of agitation; water was not far off; at half past 
three we were at Bir Amber, and we had drunk. Flaubert 
took me in his arms and said : "I thank you for not having 
blown out my brains with your gun ; in your place I should 
not have resisted." ' 

Poor Ducamp suffered in a less violent degree during their 
stay at Cairo from a French doctor living there, who wrote 
execrable tragedies. The man''s vanity enraptured Flaubert, 
who was never tired of complimenting him on his poems, 
and encouraging him to recite them. The unfortunate 
Ducamp had to listen to it all. But there were other jokes, 
which both enjoyed equally. Writing to his mother from 
near Cairo on the return journey, Flaubert says : — 

* As for Maxime and myself, we were never less bored on 
the boat, although we have nothing more to do or see. We 
have books, and we don't read. No more do we write. We 
pass nearly all our time in doing the " sheicks," that is to say 
the old men ; (the sheick is the old gentleman, foolish, retired, 
respected, in a very good position, behind the age) ; and in 
asking one another questions in the style of the same : 

' " And is there a little society in the towns that you passed 
through ? Had you any club where the papers are read ? " 



112 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

' " Is the railway movement being felt at all ? Is there any 
main line ? " 

* " And as I hope, God be thanked, socialist doctrines have not 
yet penetrated to those shores ? " 

' " Is there at least good wine ? Have you any celebrated 
vintages ? " 

' " Are the ladies agreeable ? " 

' " Are there any good cafes ? Do the shop ladies assume 
an expensive style ? " 

' All this in a trembling voice, and with an imbecile air. 
From the sheick simple we arrived at the double sheick, that 
is to say at dialogue. Thereupon dialogues on everything that 
happens in the world, and with good old crusted opinions. 
Then the sheick has aged, and has become the old palsied 
man, riddled with infirmities, and talking endlessly of his meals 
and his digestion. Here Maxime has developed a great talent 
for mimicry. He has a nephew who is a magistrate's clerk, a 
maid who is called Marianne. He is called pere Etienne, me 
he calls Quarafon (Juggins — carafe). The name " Quarafon " 
is sublime. 

' We walk about mutually supporting one another and slob- 
bering. He tells me a hundred times a day to write to his 
nephew the clerk to tell him to come because " he does not feel 
well," and as we are overdone with chicken, whenever I bewail 
myself, he says to me : " Come, Quarafon, cheer up, you shall 
have a good chicken for dinner : I told Marianne to do one for 
you." In the evening it takes us half an hour to get to bed. 
We moan and groan and turn ourselves heavily like people 
overwhelmed with rheumatism. " Come then, good night, my 
friend, good night." A few days ago I was just getting to 
sleep when I felt a weight pressing on my back, it was pere 
Etienne, who was coming to sleep with me, because he was 
afraid of being all alone in his own bed. Sometimes, too, there 
are hot disputes, wherein pere Etienne takes advantage of his 
superiority in the matter of age, and Quarafon declares that he 
will take the coach next week.' 

Avoiding the overland route to Syria as unnecessarily 
dull and long, the travellers went by sea to Beyrout and 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 113 

thence to Jerusalem. Flaubert experienced the usual dis- 
illusionment with regard to the ' holy places/ but was 
enraptured with the scenery. 

Writing to Bouilhet from Damascus, he discusses at great 
length many literary questions. Among other things, he 
says :— 

' You do well to think of the Dictionary of Accepted Opinions. 
That book, done completely, and preceded by a good preface, 
in which one would point out how the work has been written 
with the object of attaching the public to tradition, order, 
general conventionalities, and arranged in such a way that the 
reader would not know whether you were laughing at him or 
not, would perhaps be a strange book, and capable of succeed- 
ing, for it would be all real. 

* I read at Jerusalem a Socialist book {Essay on Positive 
Philosophy, by Auguste Comte). It was lent to me by a wild 
Catholic who insisted by main force that I should read it in 
order to see, etc. etc. I turned over some pages of it ; it is 
consumingly stupid, and indeed I was not mistaken. There 
are in it immense mines of comedy, quite a California of the 
grotesque. There is perhaps something else as well. That 
may be. One of the first studies to which I shall betake myself 
on my return, will certainly be that of all these deplorable 
Utopias, which agitate our society, and threaten to cover it 
with ruins. Why not accommodate ourselves to the conditions 
which are submitted to us ? They are as good as any other ; to 
take things impartially, few have been more fertile. Folly 
consists in the wish for finality. We say to ourselves : " But 
our foundation is not fixed, which of the two will be right .'' " 
I see a past in ruins, and a future in germs, the one is too 
old, the other is too young. All is confused. But that is 
not understanding the twilight. That is to wish for mid- 
night or midday only. What does the face that to-morrow 
will bear, matter ; we only see the face of to-day. It cuts 
hideous mugs truly, and therefore enters the better into 
romanticism. 

* When has the middle-class man been more gigantic than 
now ? What is Moliere's Bourgeois in comparison with him ? 

H 



114 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

M. Jourdain does not come up to the level of the first tradesman 
you meet in the street ; and the envious phiz of the artisan ? 
and the pushing young man ? and the magistrate ! And all 
that is fermenting in fools' brains, and boiling in the hearts of 
sharpers ! 

' Yes, stupidity consists in wishing to be final. We are a 
thread, and we wish to know the woof. That is the reason of 
these eternal discussions on the decay of art. People spend 
their time now in saying : " We are quite done, here we are 
at the last limit, etc. etc.." What strong mind has ever brought 
things to an end } To begin with, Homer .'' Let us enjoy the 
picture, it is good, too.' 

At Nazareth Flaubert went to see the lepers, and many 
years later turned what he saw there to good account in 
St. Julian the Hospitable. 

At this period plans were changed ; it had been originally 
proposed to continue the journey yet further East, to visit 
Mesopotamia, Persia, possibly India; but on the return 
visit to Beyrout, Ducamp received a letter from Mrae. 
Flaubert imploring him to return, as also did her son. 
Ducamp, to whom the further journey meant much, 
most unselfishly sacrificed himself to the wishes of the 
mother and the son ; though he felt with justice that they 
should have counted the cost of the longer tour to begin 
with. The moment his feet were turned homewards, 
Flaubert began to regret the places that he should never 
see. 

In Syria Flaubert found an unheard-of collection of all 
the old religions ; people in Lebanon still adoring the cedars 
as in the days of the prophets. With the cedars themselves 
he was disappointed, — they were too old and too few ; but the 
scenery was as fine as the I*yrenees, and under an Oriental 
sun. 

There lived in close intimacy with the Flaubert family 
' Uncle Parain."* He had married the sister of Dr. Flaubert, 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 115 

and therefore was not a blood relation. For Gustave he had 
a strong love, and deep admiration, making the young man 
his friend, as the following extracts from a letter written 
during quarantine at Rhodes abundantly prove : — 

'You are very wrong, my good old friend, not to write to me 
oftener, for I assure you that your letters are real "days out" 
for me. The last made me laugh heartily, and what you tell 
me of all your acquaintances has amused me not a little. That 
would be something to talk over at full length by the fireside, 
with our noses under the chimney-piece and our feet in our 
shppers. That is what I propose to myself on my return. 
What a spree we will give ourselves with the bellows ! It will 
be necessary to put a spring to them. 

' It seems that the young Bouilhet betakes himself somewhat 
to immorality in my absence. You see him too often. You 
demoralise that young man. If I were his mother, I should 
forbid him your society. There is nothing so bad for youth as 
the company of debauched old men. Nevei'theless continue, 
my good friends, to drink a glass to my health when you meet. 
Even fuddle yourselves in my honour. I pardon you by antici- 
pation.' 

' Have you ever reflected, dear old comrade, on all the serenity 
of fools .'' Stupidity is something unshakeable, nothing attacks 
it, without being crushed upon it. It is of the nature of 
granite, hard and resistant. At Alexandria one Thompson, of 
Sunderland has written his name in letters six feet high on 
Pompey's Pillar. It can be read three quarters of a mile off. 
There is no possibility of seeing the column without seeing 
the name of Thompson, and consequently, without thinking of 
Thompson. This idiot has embodied himself in the monument, 
and perpetuates himself with it. What do I say .> He 
annihilates it under the splendour of his majestic letters. Is 
it not coining it rather strong to force future travellers to 
think of you, and remember you ? All fools are more or less 
Thompsons of Sunderland. In the course of one's life, how 
many of them one meets in its most beautiful places, on 
its purest angles } And then it is they who always annihilate 
us ; they are so numerous, so happy, they return so often, they 



116 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

are so healthy. Travelling one meets numbers of them, and 
we have ah-eady a fine collection in our memories ; but as they 
pass quickly they simply amuse us. It is not so in ordinaiy 
life, when they end by making you savage.' 

At Constantinople Flaubert received a letter from his 
mother concerning the little niece, who was now coming to 
an age when her education demanded forethought. Gustave''s 
reply is worth noting : — 

'There are many things in the world, poor old woman, of 
■which you in your perfect honesty are ignorant. I who am 
becoming a very great moralist, and who besides have always 
plunged myself headlong into this kind of study, have lifted 
not a few curtain-corners which concealed countless turpitudes. 
Women are taught to lie in an infamous fashion. Their appren- 
ticeship lasts all their life from the first lady's maid they are 
given, to the last lover who comes upon them ; each and all 
take pains to make them base, and then cry out against them ; 
puritanism, prudery, bigotry, the system of seclusion, of narrow- 
ness, have spoiled their nature, and destroy the most charming 
creations of God in their bloom. I fear the moral corset — that 
is all. First impressions are not effaced, you know. We carry 
our past with us ; the whole of our life we smell of the nurse. 
When I analyse myself I find still fresh in me, and with all 
their influences (modified, it is true, by their mutual combin- 
ation), the places of pere Langlois, of pere Mignot, of Don 
Quixote, and my childhood's reveries in the garden beside 
the window of the lecture room. In short : get some one to 
teach her English, and the first general elements. Give all 
the attention that you can to that yourself, and watch over the 
character and good sense (I give the word its widest meaning) 
of the person you select.' 

There are a large number of people whose interest in their 
acquaintance begins and ends with projects matrimonial, and 
marriage is indeed an important part of life ; it is not, how- 
ever, the whole of life. Flauberfs views on the subject at 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 117 

this period, December 1850, were as follows. He is writing 
to his mother : — 

' And when is my wedding to be ? When ? You ask me that 
in connection with Ernest's marriage. Never, I hope. So far as 
a man can answer for what he will do, I reply here in the nega- 
tive. The contact of the world, with which I have rubbed 
shoulders pretty closely for the last fourteen months, makes 
me retire further and further into my shell. Uncle Parain is 
mistaken when he affirms that travelling changes people ; as 
for me, such as I started, such I return, only with some hairs 
fewer on the outside of my head, and many more landscapes 
inside. That is all ! As for my moral dispositions, I keep the 
same till further orders ; and then, if it were necessary to reveal 
the very bottom of my thoughts, and if the expression were 
not in appearance too presumptuous, I should say, that I am 
too old to change. I have passed the age. When a man has 
lived, as I have, an inner life full of turbulent analysis, and 
repressed impulses, when he has thus in turn excited and 
calmed himself, and when he has spent his whole youth in 
making his soul wheel and turn, as a rider his horse, which he 
forces with the spur to gallop across the fields, to walk slowly, 
to jump the ditches, to trot, to canter, the whole simply to 
amuse himself, and learn more ; well, I would say, if he has not 
broken his neck at the start, there is a very good chance that 
he will not break it later on. I too, I am established, in the 
sense that I have found my position, a centre of gravity. I do 
not presume that any internal shock can make me change my 
place and fall on the ground. Marriage would be for me a 
horrible apostasy. Alfred's death has not effaced the recol- 
lection of the irritation that his marriage caused me. It was 
what the news of a great scandal caused by a bishop would be 
to the devout. When a man wishes, be he small or great, to 
concern himself with the works of God, he must begin, if only 
from considerations of health, by putting himself in a position 
in which he cannot be duped by them. You may paint a 
picture of wine, love, women, glory, on condition, my good 
friend, that you are neither a drunkard, nor a lover, nor a 
husband, nor a soldier-boy. When a man is mixed with life, he 



118 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

sees it all, he suffers too much from it, or enjoys it too much. 
In my opinion the artist is a monstrosity, something outside 
nature, all the misfortunes with which Providence overwhelms 
him, come to him from his persistence in denying this axiom ; 
he suffers from it, and makes others suffer. On that point 
question women who have loved poets, and men who have loved 
actresses. Now (and this is the conclusion) I am resigned to 
living, as I have lived, alone with a crowd of great men, who 
take the place of a club to me, with my bear-skin, being a bear 
myself, etc. I don't care a snap for the world, the future, the 
what-will-people-say, for any establishment whatever, even for 
a literary reputation, which has made me pass so many sleepless 
nights in dreaming before now. That is what I am, that is my 
character. 

' If, for instance, I know what has made me reel off this 
couple of pages, poor dear old woman, may the devil fly away 
with me ! No, no— when I think of your good face, so sad, so 
loving, of the pleasure that I have in living with you, so full of 
calm, so delightful, so grave, I see clearly that I shall never 
love another woman, as I love you. There — you will never 
have a rival ; don't be afraid ! The senses, a passing fancy, 
will not take the place of that which remains enclosed in the 
recesses of a triple sanctuary. They may perhaps get as far as 
the threshold of the temple, but they will never enter in.' 

Thereupon follows a rather unkind disquisition on poor 
Ernest Chevalier, who is on the point of connnitting the 
crime of matrimony. When his friends married, Flaubert 
lost his head ; the subject was as annoying to him as to 
Queen Elizabeth ; and he was apt to express himself in 
language whose strength and unfairness were alike worthy 
of that austere virgin. 

After leaving Constantinople, Flaubert writes to 
Bouilhet : — 

* The East will soon be nothing but a question of sun. At 
Constantinople most of the men are dressed in the European 
fashion, operas are played, there are reading rooms, milliners' 
shops, etc, A hundred years lience the harem, gradually 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 119 

invaded by intercourse with Prankish ladies, will crumble to dust 
of itself under the leading article and the comic opera. . . . Soon 
the veil, already slighter and slighter, will pass from the faces 
of the women, and with it Moslemism will fly away altogether. 
The number of pilgrims to Mecca diminishes day by day ; the 
ulemas fuddle themselves like vergers. Voltaire is talked of! 
Everything here is breaking up, as with us. He who lives 
longest will laugh most ! ' 

At Athens the following scene occurred : — 

' The other day we had beside us at table a band of midship- 
men from the English navy, from nine to fourteen years old, who 
came calmly, like grown men, to give themselves a spree at the 
hotel ; with their uniforms too big for them there could be 
nothing more amusing, more exquisite. The smallest, sitting 
by Maxime, and who was not higher than the table, lost his 
long nose in his plate. These gentlemen toasted one another 
with the dignity of Lords. They smoked cigars and drank 
Marsala. My face interested them much ; they took me for a 
Turk. They told the proprietor of the hotel that they were 
very soriy to be going away the next day, as otherwise they 
would have come to pay me a visit, to have a talk with me.' 

Middies of nine years old are rather a startling pheno- 
menon ; but this was in the pre-Britannia days. 

As Flaubert approached home, the practice of moralising 
grew upon him. He says, in writing to his mother from 
Patras : — 

' The saddest thing of all is one day to become aware of the 
collapse of an old friendship. Thanks to former sympathies, one 
had faith in a community of sentiment, which no longer exists 
One used to say to oneself : " When I need him, he will come 
to help me." One calls, the friendly ear no longer understands 
your language. From one man to another, from one woman to 
another woman, from heart to heart, what gulfs ! The distance 
from one continent to another is nothing in comparison. Do I 
want you to throw yourself into the water if I fall in .'' Or to 
defend me against assassins .'' I can swim, and there are no 
assassins now. Sacrifices are not what the heart demands, but 



120 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

confidences. I ask you to love as I love, to weep as I weep, 
and over the same things, to feel as I feel, that is all. There is 
nothing more futile than those heroic friendships, which require 
events to prove them. The difficulty is to find someone who 
does not torture your nerves in the ordinary occurrences of life.' 

Perhaps Maxime Ducanip might have found something to 
say on this subject, for — 

' I am now working hard at doing the howling dervish. 
Francis (the dragoman) gives me lessons as we ride. Maxime 
is nearly bored to death ; none the less I go on. One evening 
I literally got broken winded over it, and in the house where 
we were sleeping, everybody came to the door to see what was 
the matter. The sheick still goes on ; it is a healthy creation, 
which time does not exhaust.' 

Maxime, however, had his turn every now and then : — 

' As for me, my hair is going ; when you see me again I shall 
be wearing a skull-cap ; I shall have the baldness of the office 
clerk, of the worn-out notary, of all that is most inane in the 
way of premature senility. I am quite miserable over it. 
Maxime laughs at me, he may be right. It is a feminine senti- 
ment, unworthy of a man, and a republican, I know ; but I feel in 
this the first symptom of a decadence which humiliates me, and 
of which I am only too well awai-e. I am getting fat. I am putting 
on a stomach, and beginning to be loathsome. Perhaps soon I 
shall be regretting my youth, and like Beranger's grandmother, 
my lost time. Where are ye, blooming locks of my eighteen 
years, ye who fell upon my shoulders with such hope, such pride .'' ' 

By the time that Flaubert reached Rome, he had got 
over his irritation at Ernest's marriage, and wrote him a 
pleasant enough letter of congratulation : — 

' I think that you have taken the right road, be it said 
between ourselves, and without complimenting you, and that 
I — well, not that I have taken the wrong road, but that the 
wrong road has taken me (my philosophical opinions not permit- 
ting me, as the " gar9on " would say, to recognise that there 
was any liberty or freedom of choice in the matter). . . . 

' Ah, when we Avere howling on that poor billiard table at the 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 121 

Infirmary converted into a stage of which you provided the 
scenery, who would have told us that to-day I should be at 
Rome, that I should be coming out of St. Peter's at four o'clock 
in the afternoon^ and that I should write to you ? Who would 
further have told us that I should be bald, for you will see me 
again with my head nearly bare ? In that I resemble Julius 
Ceesar and a pumpkin, for I have become enormously fat in the 
East. . . . Whatever may happen to you hereafter, remember, 
dear old man, that you have over there on the edge of the 
water, between the hillside and the river, an ear always open to 
confidences, a friendly hand that would not fail you, and a 
devotion which may be old, but is not aged.' 

Rome impressed Flaubert, as it has impressed many 
others. We go there most of us expecting to walk where 
Horace walked, to stroll under the same porticos, to saunter 
in the halls of the same baths, possibly to stroll in the 
Campus Martius and watch the young men playing ball. 
We find that the Rome of Cicero, of Horace, of Virgil, even 
of Domitian, Aurelian, is the property of the antiquary, and 
not of the ordinary traveller. Except the Pantheon, there 
are no buildings at Rome which we see at all as the subjects 
of Augustus saw them, and even that, how changed ! A 
walk along the Roman Wall in England tells us as much, if 
not more, of imperial Rome than a drive along the Via 
Appia. On the other hand, mediaeval Rome — the Rome of 
the Popes, the Rome of the Renaissance — meets us at every 
turn ; though even that is much shorn of its splendours 
since 1870. Two things attracted Flaubert at Rome, the 
statuary and the pictures, — the masterpieces of ancient art, 
and of the age of the Renaissance. St Peter*'s seemed to 
him to have the cold unsympathetic magnificence of a new 
tomb ; but he admits that the Parthenon had spoiled him 
for most things in the Avay of building. 

By May he was again home. In the summer the family 
visited England ; it was the year of the first Exhibition. 



CHAPTER XI 

LIFE AT CROISSET MADAME LOUISE COLET 

FiiOM the autumn of 1851 to his death in the spring of 1880 
Flaubert's hfe was spent ahnost without interruption at 
Croisset, in the laborious construction of his books. At the 
time of the publication of Madame Bovary he passed some 
months in Paris, and afterwards occasionally resided there 
for the winter months, especially Avhen needing access to 
libraries more complete than those of Rouen, or when the 
plays of Louis Bouilhet were being rehearsed. In 1860 he 
again made a short visit to the East, this time to the site 
of ancient Carthage, in order to fix certain details for 
Salammbo. In 1870-71 he abandoned his house to the 
Prussians, who were quartered on him ; twice he accompanied 
his mother to Vichy. These were the only serious inter- 
ruptions to the secluded life of literary labour spent in the 
study at Croisset. 

Few men of letters have been so fortunate as Flaubert in 
their domestic circumstances ; his father had left his widow 
and children the possession of a moderate fortune ; his 
mother lived only to secure to her adored son the repose 
which was absolutely necessary to enable him to realise his 
artistic ideals. 

To the ordinary irritability of the artist, Flaubert added 
the special weakness left by the breakdown of his nervous 

122 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 123 

system in 1846. At times his power of hearing became a 
positive torture to him, and his extremely sensitive ear had 
in all probability no small share in producing the fastidious- 
ness M'hich made composition in his case so laborious. 

Madame Caroline Commanville, Flaubert's niece, whose 
mother died, as we have seen, at her birth, gives us some 
very pleasant reminiscences of her uncle's home life at Croisset. 
She describes the house, built originally somewhere about 
1650 as a country residence for the monks of St. Ouen, 
restored in extremely bad taste in accordance Avith the 
artistic prejudices of the Fii-st Empire ; the garden sloping 
down to the Seine, its terraces, its avenue of limes, the tulip- 
tree opposite the study windows. The Abbe Prevost had, 
for a long period, been the guest of the monks of St. Ouen, 
and Flaubert flattered himself with the idea that Manon 
Lescaut might have been written at Croisset. 

'The habits of the house were subordinated to my uncle's 
tastes, my grandmother having, so to say, no personal life ; she 
lived in the happiness of her family. Her affection was alarmed 
by the smallest symptom of ill-health, which she imagined she 
discovered in her son ; her aim was to envelope him in an 
atmosphere of perfect calm. In the morning it was forbidden 
to make the smallest noise ; towards ten o'clock there was a 
violent ring ; my uncle's room was entered, and then for the 
first time everyone seemed to wake. The servant brought the 
letters and papers, put on the table at the bedside a big glass of 
water, very cold, and a pipe ready filled ; he then drew the 
curtains, and the light poured in. My uncle took up his letters, 
looked at the address, but rarely opened any of them before 
having taken several puffs from his pipe, then, still reading, he 
tapped at the partition to call his mother, who immediately ran 
in to sit by his bed till he got up. 

' He dressed slowly, sometimes stopping to go and read over 
again some passage in his compositions that interested him. 
Though far from complicated his dress was never careless, and 
his ideas of cleanliness were fastidious. 



lU LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

' At eleven o'clock he came down to lunch, where my grand- 
mother, uncle Parain, the governess and myself were already 
assembled. We were all extremely fond of Uncle Parain ; he 
spent a great part of the year with us. At this time (1852) my 
uncle ate little, especially in the morning, believing that a full 
diet produces dullness and indisposition to work ; hardly ever 
any meat ; eggs, vegetables, a piece of cheese, or fruit, and a 
cup of cold chocolate. At dessert, he used to light his pipe, a 
little clay pipe, get up and go into the garden, whither we 
followed him. His favourite walk was the terrace under the 
rocks, shaded on one side by old lime trees cut straight like a 
great wall. It led to a little summerhouse in the style of 
Louis XV., whose windows looked upon the Seine. We rarely 
went to the summerhouse after lunch. Avoiding the midday 
sun, we used to climb to a spot called " The Mercury," because 
of a statue of that god, by which it was once ornamented ; it 
was a second avenue situated above the terrace, and to which a 
charming path led, deeply shaded ; old yew trees in strange 
shapes grew from the rocks, showing the bare roots, and their 
ruinous trunks. Quite at the top of the path on a sort of 
circular space, a bench was hidden under chestnut trees. 
Through their branches the quiet water was seen, and large 
bits of sky above, from time to time a cloud rapidly disappearing. 
It was the smoke of a steam-boat ; immediately appeared 
between the tall stems of the trees the pointed masts of ships 
being towed up to Rouen ; often their number was seven or 
nine. Nothing could be more majestic and beautiful than 
these processions of floating houses, which spoke to you of 
distant lands. Towards one o'clock a shrill whistle was heard ; 
it was the " steamer," as the country folks say. Three times a 
day this boat makes the passage from Rouen to La Bouille. 

' The signal for departure had been given. 

' " Come," my uncle would say, "come to lessons, my Caro," and 
he, taking me by the hand, we would both go into his large 
study, where the outer blinds, carefully kept closed, had not 
allowed the heat to penetrate ; it was nice there, one breathed 
a scent of oriental beads mixed with tliat of tobacco, and a 
trace of perfumes coming through the half open door of the 
dressing room. At one bound I used to fling myself on a great 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 125 

white bear-skin which I worshipped : I used to cover its great 
head with kisses. My uncle during this time would put his 
pipe away on the chimney piece, select another, fill it, light it, 
then seat himself on a green leather arm-chair at the other end 
of the room ; he used to cross one leg over the other, lean back, 
take a file, and polish his nails. " Let us see — are you there } 
Well, what do you remember from yesterday ? "■ — " Oh, I know 
the stoiy of Pelopidas and Epaminondas quite well." "Tell me 
then." I would begin, then naturally get confused, or perhaps 
I had forgotten. "I will tell it you again." I drew near] him, 
and seated in front of him on a low chair, or on the divan, I 
used to listen with palpitating interest to the stories, which he 
made so amusing for me. 

' In this way he taught me the whole of ancient history, 
bringing the facts into relation with one another ; making 
reflections within my grasp, but always preserving truth, depth, 
in his observations ; mature minds might have listened without 
discovering anything childish in his instruction. I would 
sometimes stop him to ask him: "Was he good.''" — and this 
question applied to such pei'sons as Cambyses, Alexander, or 
Alcibiades, caused him some embaiTassment. " Good . . . come, 
these were not very particular gentlemen, what have you to do 
with that ? " But I was not satisfied, and I thought that my 
" old man " as I called him, ought to have known even the veiy 
smallest details of the lives of the persons about whom he was 
talking to me. 

' The history lesson finished, we passed to geography. He 
would never have permitted me to learn from a book. " Images, 
as much as possible," he would say, " that is the right way to 
teach children." So we had cards, globes, games requiring 
patience, which we made up and pulled to pieces together ; 
then to explain the difference between an island, a peninsula, 
a bay, a gulf, a promontory, he would take a bucket and a 
shovel, and we made models after nature in a path in the 
garden. 

' As I grew up the lessons became longer, more serious ; he 
continued them to my seventeenth year, to my marriage. 
When I was ten years old, he made me take notes while he 
talked, and when my mind was capable of understanding it, he 



126 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

began to make me observe the artistic side in everything, above 
all in my reading. 

' Often in the summer evenings we used to sit all together on 
the balcony, with its graceful carvings ; and remained there 
quiet for hours, hearing him talk ; the night would come on 
little by little, the last passei-s-by had disappeared ; on the 
towing-path opposite, the outline of a horse would be faintly 
seen, drawing a barge, which glided on noiselessly ; the moon 
began to shine, and its thousand reflections, like a dust of 
diamonds, glittered at our feet ; a light mist spread over the 
river, two or three boats put off from the shore. They were 
eel-fishers, who were starting and shooting their bow-nets — my 
grandmother, very delicate, would begin to cough, then my 
uncle would say : " It is time to return to the Bovary." " The 
Bovary " — what was it .'' I did not know. I respected this 
name, these two words, like everything else that came from my 
uncle ; I had a vague belief that it was the synonym for work, 
and work, of course, was writing. As a matter of fact, it was 
during these years, from 1852 to 1856, that he composed this 
work.' 

It is possible to know too much of the intimate life of 
our great artists ; blundering humanity is always asking, 
like little Caroline Hamard, ' was he good ? ' and has an ideal 
of its own as to the nature of goodness. One of the first 
demands that it makes of its artist is that he shall be a 
' good family man."* And though the facts have shown, over 
and over again, that the artistic temperament is incom- 
patible with the ordinary conditions of domestic life — that 
the home has to be made to the artist, and not the artist 
to the home — our chosen prophets share the fate of Cass- 
andra the moment it is discovered that they are anything 
short of exemplary at home. That the man of infinitely 
keen perception will also be the man of delicately sensitive 
nerves ; that the sedentary man will in all probability suffer 
agonies through the failure of his digestive organs ; that 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 121 

there is little reserve energy left in the man A\ho has just 
written a chapter requiring close thought, or played a con- 
certo ; that the man who can describe in the most forcible 
language the feelings of others, will also have the gift of 
describing his own, — all these things, plain, obvious, well- 
known as they are, count for nothing Avhen an artist is 
weighed in the balance of public opinion, Carlyle, once the 
divinity of hydropathic society, the rival of Wordsworth in 
the Pantheon of the Middle-class — where is he now ? It is 
all very well to have written the Life of Frederick the Great ^ 
to have whitewashed Cromwell, to have exalted Burns, to 
have published an autobiography full of comfortable long 
words, to have adorned it with talk of Baphometic fire- 
baptism and fuliginosity — the Middle-class has reversed its 
verdict, since Mr. Froude''s indiscretion turned away from 
its idol, with the remark : ' Carlyle, — oh, that ''s the chap 
that bullied his wife ; no, I don't read liim ! ' 

There will be no occasion to cry ' Shame ** upon Flaubert in 
the matter of his domestic relations. Though his letters 
continually betray the artisfs sensitiveness, described with 
the artisfs skill, we know that his irritable nerves never led 
him to any want of outward respect, or inward considera- 
tion, to his mother, or any sharpness to the little girl, whom 
he patiently taught. 

On the other hand, Flauberfs home made itself to him. 
What his life would have been, had his domesticities been 
controlled by a wife jealous of his books, or bent on leading 
a life of her own, it is easy to surmise. Imagine Mrs. Carlyle 
living in the seclusion of Croisset ; forced to submit to those 
prodigious jokes ; to the weekly visits of Louis Bouilhet ; to 
endless withering strictures upon middle-class prejudices, and 
dearly loved habits ; to a husband, who came worn out to 
bed every morning at four, and did not rise till ten ; who 



128 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

was known throughout the country-side as ' that queer 
Mr. Gustave '' ; and who frequently appeared at his window 
robed in a vohiminous dressing-gown, in full sight of pass- 
ing steamers ; who was so tortured by drawing-room con- 
versation, as to experience actual bodily pain from it ; who 
worked noisily, groaning, howling, chanting the newly 
finished phrases, or even bursting into tears of despair. 
What a jeremiad she would have bestowed on us ! 

To his servants Flaubert was an indulgent, and even an 
affectionate master ; his old nurse ' M'amselle Julie ' lived 
with him all his life, and survived him by two years ; it is no 
exaggeration to say that she worshipped the ground he trod 
on. When he went to live in Paris, he took with him one 
' Narcisse,"* who had been a servant of his father s, — retired, 
married, begotten five or six children, turned cultivator of 
the soil ; he did not, however, hesitate for a moment to 
leave wife and family, and follow ' M"'sieu Gustave "* to Paris. 
Flaubert''s friends used to amuse themselves with the remarks 
and reports of Narcisse ; they used to send him their books 
to read. He would be found seated in the study, or in front 
of the bookcase ; a feather broom under his arm, a book in 
his hand ; he would be reading aloud at the top of his voice 
in imitation of his master. On one occasion he came home 
completely drunk. Flaubert found him seated, or rather 
collapsed, on a kitchen chair ; he helped him to get to his 
room, and lie down on the bed ; then Narcisse, in a suppli- 
catino- voice said : ' Oh, sir, put the completion on your 
kindness : pull off my boots for me !"" which the indulgent 
master accordingly did. Lyrics and nips proved, however, 
too much for Narcisse in the long run, and he was forced to 
return to the bosom of his family, and cultivation of the 
soil. 

During the period of the composition of Madame Bovary 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 129 

(1852-1856) we see Flaubert chiefly through his correspond- 
ence with the Parisian lady, whose acquaintance we have 
already made. From September 1851 up to April 1854 there 
are only seven letters to other persons. Bouilhet was living 
at Rouen during the greater part of this period, so that 
correspondence Avith him was superfluous ; and a coolness 
had arisen with Maxime Ducamp. It was not till after the 
publication of Madame Bovary that Flaubert had many 
correspondents. 

The lady in question was a certain Madame Louise Colet, 
who kept a literary, somewhat Bohemian salon in Paris ; and 
this is how she appeared, and how her connection with 
Flaubert appeared to the cold world. Maxnue Ducamp, 
speaking of the two books, Elle et Lui and Lui et Elle, which 
contain the indiscreet revelations of Georges Sand on the one 
hand, and Paul de Musset on the other, writes as follows : — 

' But what are we to think of Louise Colet, who intervenes, 
elbowing herself forward, who pushes herself between the 
author of Rolla and the author of Consuelo, and who cries 
triumphantly " Here am I ! " It was absolutely necessary that 
the world should know that Alfred de Musset had had a fancy 
for a literary woman without talent : Louise Colet midertook to 
enlighten the world. After Elle et Lui, after Lid et Elle, Louise 
Colet published Lui. Ltd is Alfred de Musset, whom one 
resists, because one wishes to remain faithful to an adored 
Leonce ; Leonce is Gustave Flaubert. Ah ! I know the story, 
I have been saturated with it to nausea. I have more than 
three hundred letters, which Louise Colet wrote me, because 
she had taken me into her confidence about the attentions with 
which she persecuted Gustave Flaubert, who could no longer 
put up with them. 

' Her book Lid is worse than a lying fiction ; it is a 
systematic perversion of the truth. The mask which conceals 
the characters is so transparent that they are recognisable ; 
all those with whom she came into contact in life, all those 
who had not kept her at a distance, all of them she has 

I 



130 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

drowned in her untruthful prose. Here is a fact which I ought 
to set right, for she has changed its character. A person, 
who was of some consideration in his time, whom she calls 
Duchemin, and whose real name I will not disclose, fell in love 
with her, and declared his passion. In Ltd slie revels in the 
details of this adventure, and — to quote her own words : " The 
old lunatic pronouncing these words flung himself at my feet ; 
he seized the floating folds of my dress between his knees as in 
a vice, and taking from an inner pocket a dirty pocket-book, he 
opened it, and pulled several bank-notes out of it. ' Let a 
friend have his way,' said he to me, holding them out to me, 
' and bestow just a little love on one who feels such a burning 
passion for you.' He had the actions of a grotesque Tartufe. 
For a moment I thought that my hilarity was getting the 
better of my contempt ; but my indignation was stronger still ; 
with the back of my left hand I hit away the pocket-book, 
which went and fell by the fire, with the other I gave the old 
fool tottering on his knees such a violent push, that he rolled 
over backwards, on the carpet. His first care was, not to get 
up, but hurriedly to reach out his hand after the gaping pocket- 
book, which was touching the warm ashes, and might have 
caught fii*e. I admit that I should have been enraptured to see 
those insolent bank-notes blazing. I invent nothing in the 
scene that I describe." 

' True, she invents nothing, but she omits to say, that two of her 
friends hidden behind a glass door covered with curtains were in- 
visible spectators of this interview, and that their presence was 
not perhaps without some influence in producing the splendid 
gesture, which pushed the bank-notes aside, whose figure came to 
five hundred francs. One of those present told me the story, and 
was sufficiently humiliated at the part he had been caused to play. 

* In this pamphlet, in which hate and envy of Georges Sand 
break out at every line, Louise Colet is nothing less than a 
marchioness descended from champions of old, ruined by an 
unjust law-suit, and forced to make an income from the 
poetical talents with which nature has largely gifted her ; she 
is inspii-ed to such an extent and so naturally that in her walks 
with Alfred de Musset, they sport together upon the turf of 
Helicon, and speak nothing but verse. We are far out of the 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 131 

record. She said she was bom at Aix in 1815, and asserted 
that her father had been drawing master at the Lyons School ; 
she was proud of it, and signed herself Louise Colet, nee Revoil, 
till the epoch when this name was compromised in a non- 
literary adventure. In fact, she was born at Aix, September 17, 
1810. Her father was Antoine Revoil, postal superintendent; 
Pierre Revoil the painter, who enjoyed some celebrity, was only 
her cousin. Her husband, whom she always abused, and of 
whom she has spoken in L^ii in terms quite unmerited, was an 
excellent man, an impassioned lover of music, professor at the 
Conservatoire, gentle, and provided with a patience which 
succeeded in never breaking down. 

'There are people who try to get themselves talked about 
in a certain way, there are those who wish to get themselves 
talked about, no matter how. Louise Colet was one of the 
latter class ; she had a genius for advei'tisement, and shrank 
from nothing which might awaken attention. She had her 
portrait published in " The Beautiful Women of Paris," between 
a music-hall singer and a bonnet-maker. She was pretty after 
all, fairly well-formed, and with a curious contrast between her 
features, which were refined, and her walk, which was like a 
man's. Her clumsy extremities, rasping voice, revealed a 
substratum of vulgarity, to which her work still further testified. 

' The high opinion that she had of her own beauty, absolutely 
rendered her ugly ; she admired herself to the point of being 
displeasing. Her eyes lowered, her mouth formed in the shape 
of a heart, she would assume an air of candour to say : " You 
know that the arms of the Venus of Milo have been discovered ?" 
"Why, where .^" "In the sleeves of my dress." Louis 
Bouilhet used to say : " She has a natural want of naturalness." 

" She has told in prose and verse the story of her intimacy 
with Gustave Flaubert, whom she has outraged and calumniated 
at her will. I never could understand how it was, that Flaubert, 
a bom literary man, a solitary worker, a chaste man, did not 
turn from this literary virago. Their meeting took place in 
August (read " end of July ") 1 846 in Pradier's studio, while I 
was at Vichy. Pradier, not meaning anything by it, had said 
to Louise Colet : " You see that tall fellow there ; he wishes to 
be a literary man, you should give him some advice." Those 



132 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

who knew Flaubert^ can imagine the kind of hearing he gave 
to such a remark. A pupil Hke this, very handsome, veiy tall, 
very vigorous, was not likely to be unpleasing to the lady whom 
he used to call " the Muse." She used to say to Pradier : " My 
dear Phidias ! " Pradier would answer : " My dear Sappho ! " 
and, joking apart, they had these ways of treating one another 
as demi-gods. Flaubert smiled at it, but Sappho was skilful, 
and " the tall fellow, who wanted to be a literary man " was not 
sufficiently master of himself for self-defence ; he failed in 
resolution, and had cause to be sorry for it. He had reckoned 
that this would be a freak without consequences, one of those 
agreeable, common-place incidents, which have no future, 
because there is nothing to justify them ; he had thought that 
Paris and Croisset were far enough apart for the distance to 
give him some repose. He was mistaken. 

' Masterful, with no respect for work, insatiable, and boasting 
of the fact, she persecuted Flaubert He was afraid of her; 
when he came to Paris, he used to hide, and lower the blinds 
of his carriage. Sometimes he laughed at it, most often he 
was vexed. She would watch him, follow him, wait for him at 
the doors of houses, where he was calling. One evening, she 
forced an entrance into a private room at the Trois Freres 
Provenqaux, raging, ready to kill her rival. She was greeted 
with an explosion of laughter ; Louis de Cormenin, Bouilhet, 
Flaubert and I were dining together, and had fled from the 
public room in order to be able to talk more freely. One day 
when Flaubert was starting for Rouen, she penetrated into the 
waiting room at the station, and made such a tragical scene, 
that the railway servants were obliged to interfere. Flaubert 
was maddened, and implored for mercy ; it was never granted 
him. Among his papers must have been found a note-book 
full of verses written in a small obscure, entangled ill-formed 
hand. It is a poem that the Muse composed in a thundering 
style on a visit of twenty-four hours, which she had made to 
Mantes in Flaubert's company, whom she compares to "an 
indomitable buffalo of the wilds of America," while she assimi- 
lates herself to La Valliere and Fontanges. Flaubert smiled at 
this clumsy poetry in which the transparent images struggled 
to reveal what they should have concealed ; but at heai't he 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 133 

was flattered by it. However, he was afraid of scoffs, and 
never ventured to show this epithalamium to Louis Bouilhet. 

'There are women, who are Hke medlai's, and who become 
good as they become old ; this was not the case with Louise 
Colet ; she never wearied in evil-speaking. When the success 
of Madame Bovaiy made Gustave Flaubert's talent and 
reputation notox-ious, the young man to whom Pradier had 
pledged her to give advice, she was exasperated. She 
published a sonnet to proclaim that the book was written in 
the style of a bagman; she credited Flaubert with the low 
cunning of a Norman, and declared that his triumphs were the 
result of puffs, Avhich he had had Avritten for him in the papers. 
She ought to have known better than anybody that puffs are 
not adequate to establish a reputation, and do not give talent 
to those who have it not. Her resentment passed all bounds ; 
in her romance Lui, she treacherously reproaches Leonce 
(Flaubert) for not having sent her 10,000 francs in exchange 
for an album, which I have turned over, and which was worth 
fifty crowns. She was often in want of money, for her works 
were not much run after ; she was not rich, her husband had 
died in 1851 and her income had not increased.' 

In the end, the good lady took to writing fashion articles, 
puffing milliners, glove-makers, perfumers, and the like. She 
used sometimes to be paid in kind, and would then go about 
among her acquaintances trying to dispose of bonnets, scarves, 
hygienic garters, and what not. She died in 1875, having 
made a desperate effort to recapture Flaubert after the publi- 
cation of Salammbo, and having written a violent attack on 
him in prose. La Servante, in which she did not even spare his 
mother, whom she had once interviewed stormily at Croisset. 
Maxime Ducamp suggests as an epitaph : ' Here lies the 
woman who compromised Victor Cousin, made Alfred de 
Musset ridiculous, calumniated Gustave Flaubert, and tried 
to assassinate Alphonse Karr : Reqiiiescat in Pace.'' 

Upon this story there is a good deal to be said. The 
first and most obvious reflection that suggests itself, is that 



134. LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

a man, who tells a tale without knowing all the facts, runs 
some considerable risk of being mistaken. When Maxima 
Ducamp published his Souvenirs Litteraires, not even the 
first volume of Flauberfs correspondence had appeared ; 
from which alone it is sufficiently evident that Flaubert was 
not so much the victim of irresolution as he afterwards 
appeared to be ; no man was ever in love, if he was not. 
The first intei-view at Mantes took place at the end of 
September 1846, and was the occasion of the poem alluded 
to ; after Flauber^s return from the East (between 1851- 
1854) there were other similar meetings ; to which the 
second volume of letters testifies. Up to April 1854 
Flaubert was in frequent correspondence with Madame 
Colet, and visited her, from time to time, in Paris. Louis 
Bouilhet, at the end of that period living in Paris, used also 
to visit her, and keep Flaubert informed of her well-being. 
We do not know the precise moment at which Flaubert 
definitely broke with her. We see the rupture impending in 
the letters of the spring of 1854 ; and on the 5th August of 
the same year, Flaubert wrote to Louis Bouilhet : — 

' In the midst of my corporal anguish (he had been suffering 
from a severe inflammation of the tongue) and by way of farce to 
enliven me, a wild letter fell upon me from Paris. The .... 
was losing her head. All was discovered ; her position com- 
promised, etc. I must write, I must this, that, and the other.' 

It is easy enough to supply the word missing. The Muse is, 
by this time, too well known to all of us to be concealed. Later 
in the same year, in the winter, he asked Louis Bouilhet : — 

' How is that poor Muse .-* What do you make of her .'' What 
does she say ? She writes to me less often. I think that in her 
heart she is tired of me. Whose is the fault ? Fate. For my- 
self my conscience is perfectly calm on the subject, I do not find 
that I have anything to reproach myself with. Any other in 
her place would be tired too. I have nothing lovable about 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 135 

me, and I say that in the deepest sense of the word. She is 
perhaps the only woman who ever loved me. It is a curse that 
Heaven has sent upon her .'' If she dared, she would declare 
that I do not love her. She is mistaken, however.' 

After this the Muse disappears from the correspondence, 
except that in 1859 Flaubert recommends Ernest Feydeau 
to read Lui, and La Servante (poem) ; also Une Histoire de 
Soldat, by the same author, with the comment : ' You cannot 
picture to yourself such pitiful vulgarity ' ; and in 1876 he 
wrote to Madame Roger des Genettes : — 

' You have very coiTCctly guessed the whole effect that the 
death of the poor Muse has had upon me. The recollection of 
her thus revived made me return upon the course of my life. 
But your friend has become more stoical since the last year. I 
have trampled so many things down in order to be able to live. 
In short, after a whole afternoon spent with days that are gone, 
I determined not to think any more about it, and set to work 
again. Yet another end.' 

Thus the appearance of the whole affair is changed. This 
was not a mere light escapade, to which neither party 
attached any importance. It is true that very soon the 
passion was all on the side of the lady, and that the 
gentleman did his best to restrict the connection within 
the decent limits of an intimate literary friendship ; and 
though the end of the correspondence has been suppressed, 
and possibly other letters unflattering to Madame Colefs self- 
esteem, it is significant that neither during the three months'' 
tour in Brittany, nor during the longer Eastern tour, did she 
receive, or at any rate keep, any letters from Flaubert. 

Meanwhile, as to the lady herself, it is sufficient to read 
La Servante (prose) to be convinced that Maxime Ducamp 
is not over severe. What are we to think of a woman over 
fifty, who writes the story of her own violent passion for a 



136 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

man ten years younger than herself — a story well known to 
her contemporaries — almost without disguise, and puts it in 
the mouth of her maid, so that she may be able to indulge 
herself in lavish praises of her own beauty ? She even de- 
scribes her visit to Madame Flaubert, whose icy demeanour on 
the occasion we can imagine, and makes a great grievance out 
of the fact that she was not invited to stay the night, though 
she had a cab in attendance and the faithful serving-maid. 

Her life of Madame du Chatelet betrays the same innate 
vulgarity of mind ; she could not write a page without 
thinking of herself and obtruding herself upon her reader. 
Her own relations with Victor Cousin are tacitly appealed 
to, as she tells the story of Voltaire. 

Then how came Flaubert to fall in love with her ? How 
does any human being come to fall in love with another 
human being ? The question is unanswerable ; our friends'* 
marriages and love affairs are a perpetual cause of amaze- 
ment to us, and always will be. 

Meanwhile, Maxime Ducamp's story, however truthful in 
the main, necessarily perverts the significance of the facts. 
Madame Colet was not, in 1846, so obviously what she 
showed herself to be in 1856. The story as told by Ducamp 
is told by the light of subsequent knowledge of Madame 
Colet, and in ignorance of great part of the relation between 
her and Flaubert. 

The year 1 846 was Flauberfs year of trouble : his father 
had died, his sister had died, his own health was an ever- 
present nightmare. The friendship with Louis Bouilhet was 
only in its infancy, and it was the nature of the man to 
demand a strong affection ; he was bound to expand, to 
pour out his hopes, his sorrows, his literary projects, his 
temporary annoyances into some sympathetic ear ; his sister 
had been the intimate companion of his life ; her marriage 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 137 

and death left him stranded. It is true that there was 
Maxime Dueamp ; but, just at this time, Maxime Ducamp 
was away from Paris, and, further, Flauberfs relation with 
Ducamp was always rather that of the person who lets 
himself be loved, than that of the one who loves. Ducamp 
tried to control and guide him. Flaubert was grateful for 
his affection, returned it in his boisterous way, but was 
never quite satisfied with it ; there was always something in 
Ducamp rather irritating to him. Thus, when Flavibert 
was in Paris in July 1846, he was ready to fall at the feet 
of almost any Avoman Avho betrayed a liking for him, and he 
was particularly susceptible to the charms of a clever woman ; 
by far the larger number of his letters were written to 
women. We have seen how Flaubert met Victor Hugo at 
Pradier''s ; Madame Colet had contrived to hook herself on to 
Victor Hugo ; she would not appear to Flaubert as a literary 
virago in 1846, but rather as a brilliant and beautiful 
woman, occupying a prominent place in the first literary 
society in Paris ; he was then the aspirant, she had arrived. 
An enthusiastic admirer (of literature ?) had caused her 
complete works to be printed in large-paper quarto volumes, 
and published twenty-five copies for private circulation. 
Victor Hugo Avrote letters to her, beginning ' O sister ! "■ 
She had been addressed by a poet as ' Penserosa."' Flaubert 
wanted a woman to be his literary companion, and here 
was the one who, after Georges Sand, seemed to him to 
occupy the highest place in letters, ready to be that 
companion — nay, more, to bestow her love upon him. 

There was also in Flaubert, when confronted with the 
practical world, a simplicity strangely in contrast with the 
minuteness of his observation. His mind, while recording 
what was passing around hira, did not immediately draw 
conclusions. He mentally photographed the external world. 



138 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

but did not develop the photograph till afterwards. To 
the hundred little gestures by which character is revealed in 
daily intercourse, he was at the time blind ; it did not occur 
to him to question anybody ""s motives for being kind to him ; 
and this big lion was particularly fond of being stroked the 
right way. But on any literary question, he was, as a 
rule, more than wide awake. Why then did he not at once 
see through the shallowness of Madame Colefs literary 
capacity ? This is due to the curious way in which he 
combined his literary admiration with his affection. He 
loved Louis Bouilhet, as much as one man can love another, 
therefore Louis Bouilhet was not only a poet, but the poet ; 
he fell in love with Madame Colet, and therefore swallowed 
her vulgar verses whole, as long as his passion lasted. His 
disillusionment with regard to her began in the region of 
letters ; and he did not break with her permanently till she 
forced him to see in her a rival, not only to his mother, but 
to Madame Bovary. It is this which gives the episode more 
than a gossipy interest. Flauberfs fidelity to art was tested 
by it ; and he came unscathed out of the ordeal. It con- 
firmed him in his determination not to marry ; and there 
can be little doubt but that many pages of Madame Bovary 
would have been less well written had it not been for this 
experience. It is a curious fact that Madame Colet was of 
the same age as the original of Madame Arnoux, the heroine 
of Flaubert's sentimentalities at Trouville, and must have 
borne a strong personal resemblance to her. 

In dealing with Flaubert's correspondence after this period, 
and especially his correspondence with Madame Colet, the 
(question arises as to whether it would not be advisable to make 
a digest of the whole ; extract from the mass of letters all 
that is valuable in the way of opinion ; give examples of 
characteristic forms of statement, and transitions of thought ; 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 139 

in a word, create a systematic compendium of maxims of 
Gustave Flaubert. The reasons for not adopting such a 
course are obvious. The letters, not being written for 
publication, are to some extent incoherent. Flaubert, after 
a hard day's work sought relaxation in con-espondence ; he 
Avrote as though he were communing with himself; he was 
at no pains to measure his statements, to refrain from 
repetitions. It would, however, be practically impossible 
to make a digest of the letters without to some extent 
assuming- the office of critic ; and criticism on what was 
never intended to be published is out of place. The value 
of the letters as a human document lies precisely in the fact 
that they were thrown off unconsciously ; and give us, 
without any concealment, without any straining for effect, 
the passing feeling of the man who wrote them. They give 
us more. If his friends are to be believed, Flaubert talked to 
them much as he wrote to them ; and it is from the letters 
that we are able to draw conclusions as to the fascination 
which the personality of the man had for those who knew 
him intimately, and as to the invigorating talk which he 
fearlessly flung out of him. 

On the other hand, to reproduce all that has been 
published of the correspondence would be to weary the 
reader with repetition. Therefore, those passages have been 
selected for translation which seemed to bear upon features 
of his life interesting to students of human nature, and the 
extracts have been strung together in order of time. Any 
other manipulation would destroy the chief charm of the 
letters, their fresh personal note ; while the perpetual inter- 
vention of the editor would be tiresome. 

From all points of view it would be a grievous error to 
attempt to construct a Flaubertian system. No man ever 
had a greater detestatiom of dogma ; and he was extremely 



140 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

angry when his name was mentioned as the leader of a 
school. He was at no pains to formulate a set of literary 
doctrines in spite of his readiness to thunder on the text of 
' Art for Arfs sake "* ; and, least of all, should a serious philo- 
sophical system be looked for in his private correspondence. 

The letters to Madame Colet at this period, 1851-4, dealt 
chiefly with literary questions, and the agonies which 
Flaubert experienced in writing Madame Bovary ; there 
were also a few passages, in which his deeper personality 
revealed itself. As his first letter to her, after his return 
from the East, is a reply, Ave may presume that it was the 
lady who resumed the correspondence. There is evidence 
in one of the letters that he tried to break with her when 
leaving France ; he did not go to bid her farewell. There 
is no allusion to the death of her husband in any of the 
letters ; but we know that he died in 1851. Is it possible 
that she formed some hope of finding him a successor, and 
thus was led to reopen the intimacy ? 

' There are in me, speaking of literature, two distinct men, 
one who is taken by resounding cries, lyricism, great eagle 
flights, by all the sonority of phrases, elevations of the ideal ; 
another who works and worries into the truth, as far as he can, 
who loves to bring the small fact to book as exhaustively as the 
big one, who Avould like to make you feel the things that he 
describes, alinost materially. This latter is fond of laughter, 
and delights in the animal side of man. 

' What seems fine to me, what I would like to write, 
would be a book about nothing, a book without any external 
connection, which would support itself of itself by the internal 
force of its style, as the earth is held in the air without being 
supported ; a book which would have hardly any subject — or at 
least in which the subject would be almost invisible. The most 
beautiful works are those in whicli there is least matter ; the 
closer the expression comes to the thought, the closer the word 
adheres to it, and disappears, the more beautiful it is. 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 141 

* It is for this reason that there are neither good nor bad 
subjects, and that one might ahnost establish an axiom, looking 
from the point of view of pure art, to the effect that there is no 
subject ; style being in itself an independent manner of seeing 
things ; I should require a whole book to develojje what I 
mean.' 

This literary doctrine recurs again and again ; and to the 
ordinary sinner is certainly incomprehensible. 

Music seems to fit the definition on which Flaubert tries 
to insist. Strings of words, whose mere sounds suggest 
certain conditions of thought, are an impossible conception. 
The idea arose partly from Flauberfs own personal diffi- 
culties in composition and sensitive ear to begin with, and is 
something different from his protest against ' the novel with 
a purpose,"" though closely allied to it, and often confused 
Avith it; as also from his frequently expressed demand for 
the impersonal in art. 

' You tell me that you begin to understand my life ; it would 
be necessary to know its origins. Some day I shall describe 
myself quite at my ease ; but at that time I shall no longer 
enjoy the necessary strength. I have no horizon in front of me, 
except that which surrounds me at this present. I consider 
myself as being forty years old, fifty, sixty. My life is a wound- 
up machine, which turns regularly ; what I do to-day, I shall 
do to-morrow, I did it yesterday, I have been the same man 
for ten years ; it has turned out, that my organisation is a 
system, the whole without any deliberately adopted purpose, 
by the tendency of things in general, which makes the white 
bear inhabit the ice, and the camel walk on the sand. I am a 
man-pen, I am by it, by reason of it, in relation to it, and much 
more with it. You will see from the beginning of next winter 
an apparent change. I shall spend three wintei's in wearing 
out some pairs of shoes ; then I shall return to my lair, where 
I shall die obscure or illustrious. Manuscript or in pi'int, there is 
however one thing that torments me, the want of knowledge of 
my measure. This man, who says he is so calm, is full of doubts 



142 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

about himself, he would like to know just how far he can rise, 
and the exact power of his muscles. But to ask that is to be 
very ambitious, for the exact knowledge of one's strength is 
perhaps nothing other than genius.' 

The astuteness with which Madame Colet beguiled her 
admirer may be infen-ed from the following : — 

' A fortnight ago on the Pont Royal on our way to dinner you 
said a thing which pleased me much, to wit, " that you were 
beginning to perceive that there is nothing artistically more 
feeble, than to introduce one's personal sentiments in art." ' 

There is nothing more flattering to the human male than 
to make a convert of an adoring female ; the experienced 
Muse had learned her lesson. 

Talking of De Musset he says : — 

' Nerves, magnetism, there you have poetry ! No ; poetry 
has a calmer base ; if having sensitive nerves were enough to 
make a poet, I should be a greater poet than Shakespeare, than 
Homer ; the latter I picture to myself as far from being a 
nervous man. This confusion is a sacrilege ; I can say something 
on the subject, I, who have heard people speaking in a low 
voice thirty yards off me through closed doors ; I, whose viscera 
have been seen through my skin, leaping and bounding, 
who have at times felt in the space of a second thousands of 
thoughts, images, combinations of all kinds, Avhich threw into 
my brain all at once, as it were, all the lighted squibs of a set 
piece of fireworks ; but these are excellent moving subjects of 
conversation. Poetiy is not a debility of the mind, and these 
nervous susceptibilities are. This faculty of abnormal perception 
is a weakness. I explain myself. 

' If I had had a sounder brain, I should not have made 
myself ill over reading law, and wearying myself ; I should have 
made some profit out of it, instead of getting hann. The 
vexation instead of staying in my head passed into my limbs, 
and made them writhe in convulsions. It was a deviation. 
There often appear children, who are made ill by music ; they 
have great capacity for it, retain airs on the first hearing, 
become excited over playing the piano, their heai-ts beat, they 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 143 

become thin, pale, fall sick, and their poor nerves, like those 
of dogs, writhe in suffering at the sound of the notes. These 
are not the future Mozarts ; the vocation has been misplaced ; 
the idea has passed into the flesh, where it remains barren, and 
the flesh wastes ; neither genius nor health are the outcome. 

' The same thing in art ; passion does not make verses, and 
the more personal you are, the more feeble you are.' 

Flaubert rarely speaks of his nervous malady ; but he 
carefully studied it, and therefore the ideas that he formed 
about it are interesting, though they may have no value to 
physicians. 

' You tell me that if you were a man, you would be furious 
at seeing a woman prefer a mediocrity to yourself. O Woman ! 
O poetess ! How little you know of the hearts of males ! By 
the age of eighteen a man has already received so many knock- 
down blows in this particular, that he has become callous. Men 
treat women, as we treat the public ; with much outward defer- 
ence, and a sovereign inward contempt. Love humiliated 
becomes the pride of the libertine. I believe that success with 
women is generally a sign of mediocrity, and yet, it is what we 
all envy, the crown of everything else ; but one does not like to 
admit it, and as Ave consider the objects of their preference very 
much beneath us, we arrive at the conviction that they are 
stupid, which is not the case. We judge from our point of 
view, they from theirs ; beauty is not to a woman the same that 
it is to a man ; they will never agree on that subject, nor on 
the question of mind, sentiment, nor anything else.' 

Again, on the question of Art : — 

' The time of the beautiful is passed. Humanity free to re- 
turn to it, has nothing, for the present quarter of an hour, to do 
with it. The further it goes the more scientific will art become ; 
and in the same way science vdll be more artistic ; the two 
after having been separated at the base will meet at the 
summit. 

' I can conceive, however, a style which would be beautiful, 
which some one will produce one of these days, in ten years, or 



144 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

ten centuries, and which will be as rhythmical as verse, precise 
as the language of science, and which will have undulations, 
modulations like these of a violoncello, flashes of fire. A style 
which would enter into the idea like the stroke of a stiletto, 
and on which our thought would sail over gleaming surfaces as 
when one sails in a boat with a good wind to one's back. Prose 
is born of yestei'day, that has to be said. Verse is the form, the 
appropriate form, of the literature of antiquity. All the 
combinations of prosody have been made, those of prose are 
still to make.' 

Occasionally Flaubert makes a strange muddle over a 
pretty speech, as in the case of the bed, which he destined 
for his parents : — 

' I have always lived without diversions, I should require 
them huge. I was born with a heap of vices, which have never 
poked their noses out of the window. I like wine, and I 
do not drink. I am a gambler, and I have never touched a 
card. Debauchery pleases me, and I live like a monk. I am 
at bottom a mystic, and I believe in nothing. But I love you, 
my dear heart, and I greet you tenderly. Ti'uly, if I were to 
see you every day, perhaps I should love you less ; but no, 
there is still a long time before us, you live in the back-shop of 
my heart, and you go out on Sundays.' 

The Muse was not content with playing the part of Sally 
in our Alley ; she wished to incorporate herself more closely 
with Flaubert, — to be received, so to speak, by the family. 

' Yet another word with reference to my mother. No doubt 
she would have received you in her best manner, if you had 
met one way or another, but as to being jiattered by it (don't 
take this for a gratuitous insult ;) you must know that she is 
never flattered by anything ; poor woman ! it is very difficult to 
please her, she has in her personality something imperturbable, 
icy, simple, which makes you ill at ease ; she does without 
principles still more comfortably than without expansiveness. 
Naturally virtuous, she immodestly declares she does not 
know what virtue is, and is unconscious of ever having 
sacrificed anything to it.' 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 145 

The Muse had a prodigious power of weeping, being a 
profoundly sensitive creature, after the manner of selfish 
people. Her tears occasionally elicit valuable words of 
comfort. 

' Do not let us bewail anything ; to complain of everything 
which afflicts or irritates us is to complain of the very constitu- 
tion of existence. We are made to depict sorrow, are we, and 
to have nothing else to do with it. Let us be religious ; as for 
me, every thing disagreeable that happens to me, be it small or 
great, makes me cling closer to my eternal trouble. I clutch 
hold of it with both my hands, and I close my eyes calling for 
grace ; it comes, God has pity on the simple, and the sun 
always shines for the strong hearts, who place themselves above 
the mountains. I am taking to a kind of aesthetic mysticism 
(if the two words can go together) and I could wish it were 
stronger. When no encouragement comes to you from others, 
when the external world disgusts you, makes you languid, 
corrupts you, brutalises you, honourable and fastidious people 
g.re forced to seek in themselves somewhere for a more decent 
place to hve in. If Society continues to go on as it is now, we 
shall again see, I believe, mystics, such as there have been at 
^1 dark periods. The soul unable to expand will concentrate 
herself; the time is not far off when the universal weariness will 
return, the belief in the end of the world, the expectation of a 
Messiah. But the theological basis wanting, where will now be 
the starting point of that enthusiasm, which knows not itself .'' 
Some will seek it in the flesh, others in the old religions, others 
in art and humanity, as the Hebrew race in the desert went to 
worship all manner of idols. We ourselves have come a little 
too soon, in five and twenty years the point of intersection will 
be superb in the hands of a master, then prose above all (the 
younger form) will be able to pay a formidable humanitarian 
symphony ; books Hke the Satyricon and the Golden Ass may 
return, possessing in psychological outpourings all that those 
have in sensual excesses. 

' Here is what all the socialists in the world have refused to 
see with their eternal materialist preaching, they have denied 
pain, they have blasphemed three parts of modem poetry ; 



146 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

nothing will eradicate, nothing dry up the blood of Christ, 
which stirs in us, there is no need to wipe it away, but to make 
streams for it to flow in. If the sense of human insufficiency, 
of the nothingness of life were to pass away (and that would be 
the consequence of the socialist's hypothesis) we should be 
duller than the birds, who at least perch on the trees. The 
soul is now sleeping, drunk with words, she has heard, but she 
will have a frantic awakening when she will give herself over 
to the joys of freedom, for she will no longer have anything 
around her to trammel her, neither government, nor religion, 
nor any formula ; republicans of every shade appear to me the 
most barbarous pedants in the world, they who dream of 
organisation by legislations, of a society like a convent. I 
believe, on the contrary, that rules are on their way off, that 
the barriers are being overturned, that the earth is levelling. 
This present great confusion will perhaps herald liberty. Art, 
which always advances, has at any rate followed this course ; 
what school of poetry now stands .'' plastic itself becomes 
increasingly less jDOSsible with the limitations of our language, 
its preciseness, and our vague, mixed, unseizable ideas ; all 
that we can do then, is by dint of skill to screw up the strings 
of our guitar so often thrummed upon, and to be above all 
virtuosos, since simplicity at our epoch is a chimera. Along 
with that the picturesque is almost leaving the world, poetry 
will not however die, but what will be the poetry of the future .'' 
I do not see it clearly, who knows .^ Beauty will perhaps 
become a sentiment, useless to humanity, and art will be 
something holding a middle place between music and algebra. 

' Since I can not see to-morrow, I should have liked to see 
yesterday. Why did I not live at any rate under Louis xiv., 
with a big wig, tightly fitting stockings, and the society of 
M. Descartes } Why did I not live in the time of Ronsard .> 
Why did I not live in the time of Nero ? How I would have 
talked with the Greek rhetoricians ! How I would have 
travelled in the gi*eat chariots on the Roman roads and slept 
in the hostelries at night with the vagabond priests of Cybele ! 
Why did I not live above all in the time of Pericles to sup with 
Aspasia crowned with violets, and singing verses between white 
marble walls > Alas ! it is all finished, all that ; that dream will 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 147 

never come back. Now I have lived every^where ; doubtless in 
some state of pre-existence. I am sure of having been leader 
of a troop of strolling comedians, under the Roman Empire ; 
one of those fine fellows, who went to Sicily to buy women to 
make actresses of them, and who were at once professors, pimps, 
and artists ; they are fine figures are those same rascals in the 
comedies of Plautus, and in reading them it all comes back 
upon me like a reminiscence. Have you ever experienced 
that — the historic shudder ? 

' When we compare ourselves with those who surround us, we 
admire ourselves, but when we lift our eyes higher to the 
masters, to the absolute, to the dream, how we despise our- 
selves ! I read one of these days recently, a fine thing ; to wit 
the life of Careme the cook. I do not know by what connection 
of ideas, I had come to think of this illustrious inventor of 
sauces, but I turned out his name in the Universal Biography ; 
it is magnificent considered as the existence of an artist and 
enthusiast, it would stir the envy of more than one poet. Here 
are some of his phrases : when he was told to take care of his 
health and work less ; " The chai-coal kills us," he said, " but 
what does it matter } Fewer days, more glory," And, in one 
of his books in which he admits that he was gluttonous, " but I 
perceived my vocation so clearly, that I did not stop at eating I" 
This " stop at eating " is prodigious in a man, whose art it was.' 

Here is another piece of literary criticism flattering to 
our national pride, and containing a singularly acute obser- 
vation : — 

' What distinguishes great geniuses is generalisation and 
creation ; they resume scattered personalities in a type, and 
bring new characters to the conscious perception of humanity ; 
do we not believe in the existence of Don Quixote as in that of 
Caesar .-* Shakespeare is something tremendous in this respect ; 
he was not a man but a continent ; there were great men in 
him, whole crowds, countries. They have no need of attending 
to style, men like that, they are strong in spite of all their 
faults and because of them ; but we, the little ones, we are 
worth nothing except by finish of execution. Hugo, in this 
century, will knock the bottom out of everybody, although he 



148 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

is full of bad things, but what a wind ! What a wind ! I ven- 
ture here on a proposition, which I would not dare to express 
anywhere else : it is that the great men often write veiy badly, 
and so much the better for them. It is not to them that we 
must go to look for the art of form, but to the second bests, to 
Horace, to La Bruyere ; one should know the masters by heart, 
idolise them, try to think like them, — and then separate from 
them for ever. In the matter of technical instruction there is 
more profit to be drawn from the learned, the dexterous minds.' 

On another occasion he says of Shakespeare : — 

' But what a man he was ! How small other poets appear by 
his side, all without any exception, and above all so trivial. . . 
It seems to me that if I were to see Shakespeare in person, I 
should die of fear.' 

The Muse meanwhile was pursuing her avocation. She 
undertook to write a poem on the Acropolis for a prize 
competition, and the prophet of 'art for art alone' 
materially assisted her ; he and Louis Bouilhet revised the 
manuscript together. The work was submitted to the 
Academy. It was not always easy to correct the works of 
the Muse ; her ignorance seems to have been as robustly 
developed as her ambition. 

Flaubert sent the Muse his private notes on his Eastern 
travels ; she criticised them chiefly to express surprise that 
her name did not appear in them, and to reprove Flauberfs 
want of delicacy. In his reply the following passage 
occurs : — 

' Up to the present time people have understood by the 
East something gleaming, yelling, impassioned, dashing. They 
have seen nothing in it but dancing women and curved sabres ; 
fanaticism, voluptuousness ; they remain where Byron left them ; 
for my part I saw it differently. What I like in the East, on 
the contrary, is the unconscious greatness, the harmony of things 
incongruous. I remember a bather who had a silver bracelet 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 149 

on his left arm, and on the other a bhster. That is the true 
East ; rascals in rags galooned, but covered with vermin. . . . 
That reminds me of Jaffa, where on entering I smelled at once 
the odour of orange gardens and corpses ; the cemetery exposed 
its half-coiTupted skeletons, while the green trees swung their 
golden fruit over our heads. Do you not see that this poetry 
is complete, that this is the great synthesis ? All the appetites 
of the imagination and thought are there satisfied at once ; 
there is nothing left out here : but people of taste, the people 
of pretty touches, of purification, of illusions, those, who with 
manuals of anatomy for ladies, science within the grasp of all, 
pretty sentiments, and honeyed art, change, erase, remove, and 
call themselves classic, the wretches. Ah, how I would like to 
be a learned man ! What a beautiful book I would write entitled 
Of the Interpretation of Antiquity ; for I am sure I am in the true 
tradition ; what I put into it is the modem sentiment.' 

The nature of the disillusionment which Flaubert was to 
suffer in the matter of the Muse is clearly indicated in the 
following : — 

'You are not a woman, and if I have loved you more and 
more deeply (try to understand this word "deeply") than any 
other, it is because you seemed to me less a woman than any 
other ; none of our differences have ever arisen except from the 
feminine side of you. Think over this — you will see if I am 
mistaken. I would wish that we should keep our two bodies, 
and be only one same mind ; understand that this is not love, 
but something higher, it seems to me, since this longing of the 
soul is almost a need that the soul has to live, to expand, to be 
greater. Every sentiment is an extension. For this reason 
liberty is the noblest of passions.' 

Here is another reference to his malady : — 

' No, I regret none of my youth. I was horribly wearied. I 
dreamed of suicide, I consumed myself in all possible kinds of 
melancholy ; my nervous malady did me good, it diverted all 
that to the physical element, and left my head cooler, and then 
it introduced me to curious psychological phenomena, of which 



150 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

no one has any idea, or rather which no one has felt. I will 
take niy revenge some day, I will utilise them in a book (that 
metaphj^sical romance with appai'itions of which I spoke to 
you), but as it is a subject which frightens me, speaking from 
the point of view of health, I must wait, and I must be far 
from these impressions to be able to give them to myself 
artificially, ideally, and so without danger to myself or my 
work.' 

As a specimen of the Muse"'s poetical powers the following 
line, literally translated from the Paysanne^ is illustrative : — 

' And each year he had a baby.' 

' Et chaque annee il avait un enfant.' 

It is necessary to quote the French in order to show that 
no injustice is being done to the good lady. Even the 
enamoured Flaubert Avas startled by this. 

With the imaginary conversations of the dotards in 
Egypt, the following may be compared : Flaubert had been 
at a funeral : — 

'While I was looking at poor Pouchet, who was writhing as 
he stood like a reed before the wind, do you know what I had 
beside me .'' A gentleman, who questioned me on my travels : 
" Are there museums in Egypt } What is the state of the 
public libraries.-*" (this is literal) and as I dispersed his 
illusions, he was miserable. " Is it possible .'' What a wretched 
country ! How is civilisation to . . . etc. etc' The interment 
being Protestant the priest spoke in French at the edge of the 
grave ; my friend was better pleased with that : " and then 
Catholicism is robbed of these flowers of rhetoric." O men, O 
mortals, and to say that one is always deceived, that one is wrong 
to believe in one's power of inventing, that the reality always is 
too big for you. I went to this ceremony with the intention 
of stiffening my mind a bit in the art of delicate touches, of 
trying to discover a few pebbles, and here are whole blocks 
falling on my head ! The grotesque drummed at my ears and 
the pathetic was in convulsions before my eyes. From whence 
I draw, or rather re-draw, this conclusion : you should never 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 151 

fear being exaggerated. All the great men have been so, 
Michael Angelo, Rabelais, Shakespeare, Moliere.' 

Flaubert for the sake of a friend could put up with a bore 
in spite of his irritable nerves : — 

' Yesterday the 6th, and to-day the 7th of July 1853 will be 
celebrated in the annals of my existence as boredom. Two days 
of Azvedo ! Two afternoons. Two dinners. What a reptile ! 
and the best of it is, this dear fellow adores me ; he embraced 
me this evening on leaving ! He came yesterday at eleven 
o'clock, and I made him go by the boat at seven; not knowing how 
to spend the time, I proposed to him a walk in the forest ; it was 
splendid weather, his aspect was mitigated by that of the forest; 
and in fact, I was not too bored ! but it is when one is with him 
alone, and looks at him ! To-day at four o'clock he came back 
with Bouilhet, whom he won't leave, and who is made ill by him. 
What a strange thing ! for at the bottom the poor fellow is not 
a fool, he has sometimes a glimmer of genius through his great 
rants, and he possesses one very rare quality — to wit, enthusiasm 
(a quality, however, which has more to do with his blood, his 
Spanish descent, than his individual mind) but he is so common, 
so repulsive, nervously speaking, that if he had rendered you 
all the services in the world, you could not love him. Then, in 
what does being agreeable consist .'' What is this evil, subtle 
miasma, that emanates from an individual, and makes him 
unpleasant to you, even when he is not so. What is the reason 
of that ? I am worrying myself to find out. And then what a 
dress ! What clothes ! Threadbare black all over ; low shoes, 
grey stockings, a coloured shirt, its colour disappearing under 
complicated patterns ; a hangman's beard ! that is strong, the 
beard is a whole universe ! remember this great doctrine which 
I have this moment discovered. Oh heaven, heaven, have we 
not enough moral dirt without physical dirt ? How these 
creatures make one love beauty ! Yes, a beautiful face is a 
fine thing, a beautiful stuff, beautiful marble is fine, the flash 
of gold, the lustre of satin, a green bough swinging in the wind, 
a great ox ruminating in the grass, a flying bird, all are fine ; it 
is only man who is ugly. How sad that all is ! He makes my 
brain turn ! and to say that if I were blind, I should perhaps 



152 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

like him better, I believe that these repulsions are intimations 
from Providence, it is an instinct of self preservation, which 
warns us to be on our guard, and I am killing myself in the 
effort to find out in Avhat way Azvedo may injure me.' 

Upon this, the Muse took up her parable in the high 
moral line and lectured her admirer, with the following 
result : — 

' Still savage, still fierce, still undaunted, and passionate, 
what a strange Muse it is ! And how unjust in its tempers ! 
I put that all down to the score of lyricism, but I assure you 
that it has a very narrow side, and even bruises sometimes, dear 
good Muse ! Because that idiot of an Azvedo bored me two 
days you send me a kind of vague fulmination against him, 
against myself, against eveiything. But I assure you that I 
am quite innocent of all that ; and, in the first place I did not 
invite him, it is he, who of his own accord, came back the 
second day ; unless one took him by the shoulders, it was 
impossible to get him outside the door. He came back with 
Bouilhet, and he wanted nothing more than to come for 
comfort. As for him, Bouilhet, after what Azvedo had done, 
or said he had done, for Melaenis, he could not send him off 
brutally either ; at last in the evening I breathe out my bore- 
dom in ten lines to be rid of it, think no more of it, then I 
spoke to you of a heap of other things better and higher (of 
which you do not say one word) and you send me back in answer 
a kind of denunciation in four pages, as if I adored this 
gentleman, made much of him, etc., and abandoned you for him : 
you will admit that it is funny, good Muse, and this is the 
second time that it has happened ! What a child you are ! ' 

The fact was — a fact that Flaubert did not see — that the 
Muse was profoundly jealous of Louis Bouilhet ; in La 
Servante she openly accuses him of })romoting the breach 
between her and Flaubert. For which, if he were respon- 
sible, he would deserve our best thanks. Azvedo was a 
symptom of Bouilhet^s influence over Flaubert ; that was 
enough. 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 153 

In the following passage Flaubert, perhaps unconsciously, 
describes his own life : — 

' Yes — I maintain (and this should be for me a practical 
dogma in the artist's life) one must take one's existence in two 
parts : live like a middle-class man and think like a demi-god. 

' If you wish to seek happiness and the beautiful at the same 
time, you will not reach either ; for the second only comes by 
sacrifice ; Art, like the God of the Jews, delights in burnt 
offerings. 

' Let us then look for tranquillity only, let us ask life only for 
an arm-chair, not for thrones ; for sufficient, not for intoxication. 
Passion accommodates itself ill to that long patience, which the 
craft demands. Art is vast enough to occupy the whole of a 
man ; to divert anything fx-om it is almost a crime, it is a theft 
from the idea, a failure of duty.' 

Again the Muse wishes to establish closer relations : — 

'What a strange creature you are, my dear friend, to send 
me diatribes again, as my chemist would say. You ask me for a 
thing, I say yes, I promise it you again, and you scold again. 
Well — since you hide nothing from me (and I approve of this) 
I do not conceal from you, that this seems to me a fixed idea 
with you ; you wish to establish between affections of a different 
nature a connection of which I neither see the sense nor the 
utility. I do not see at all, in what way the civilities, which 
you do me at Paris, engage my mother in anything. I was for 
three yeai-s a visitor at the Schlesingers, where she never set 
her feet. In the same way Bouilhet has been coming here for 
eight years to sleep, dine, and lunch eveiy Sunday without his 
mother having been even once revealed to us, though she 
comes to Rouen nearly every month ; and I assure you, that my 
mother is not in the least shocked by it. Lastly, it shall be 
done as you desire. I promise, I swear to you, that I Avill place 
your I'easons before her, and that I will beg her to bring it 
about that you see one another. As for the rest ; with the best 
intentions in the world, I can do nothing ; perhaps you will 
suit one another, perhaps you will dislike one another 
enormously. The good woman is not particularly adhesive, 



154 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

and she has given up seeing not only all her old acquaintances, 
but even her friends. 

' There is something wrong in my personality, and my 
vocation. I was born a lyric, and I do not write verses. I 
would like to overwhelm those I love with kindness, and I 
make them weep. Now Bouilhet ! — there is a man ! What 
a complete nature ! If I were capable of being jealous of 
anyone, I should be of him ; with the depressing life that he 
has led, and the slops that he has swallowed, I should certainly 
be an idiot by now, or at the galleys, or hung by my own hands. 
Sufferings from outside have made him better, that is the way 
with the tall forests, they grow in the wind and the dust, 
through flint and granite, while the garden fruit trees with all 
their manure and straw coverings die in a row against a wall, 
and in the face of the sun. Indeed I love him well, that is all 
that I can say about it, and never mistrust him. 

' Do you know what I was talking about to my mother all 
yesterday evening ? About you. I told her many things, that 
she did not know, or at least that she only half guessed ; she 
appreciates you, and I am sure that this winter she will see you 
with pleasure. So that question is settled.' 

The Muse was not, however, pacified ; and in the midst of 
criticisms on her poems, suggestions for their improvement, 
praise of isolated lines, we have such passages as the 
following : — 

' Finally, poor dear friend, do you wish me to disclose to you 
the bottom of my thoughts ? or rather to open to you the 
bottom of your heart .'' I think that your love is on the decline. 
The dissatisfaction, the suffering, that I cause you, has no other 
origin, for such as I am, such I have always been. But now, 
you see me better, and you judge me reasonably perhaps. I 
know nothing of it ; but still when one loves completely, one 
loves what one loves, as it is, with its faults, and its monstro- 
sities, one even adores its mange, dotes on its hump, breathes 
with rapture its poisonous breath. It is the same way with 
moral deformities ; now I am deformed, low, selfish, etc. Do 
you know that will all end in making me unsupportably proud ? 
Always blaming me as j)eople do. I do not believe there is a 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 155 

mortal on the earth, who is less approved of than I, but I will 
not change. I will not reform. 

' What makes you think that I did not care very much about 
the upshot of the philosopher's visit ? Because I could not 
come to you on Wednesday evening, harassed as I was with 
business, and running about. Ah ! know you that I have never 
told you a quarter of the things that you write to me, I who am 
so hard, as you say, and have not the shadow of an affection for 
you. That completely breaks you down, you say ; and me too, 
and more than I say or will ever say. But when one writes such 
things, one of two things is true ; either one thinks them, or 
one does not think them ; if one does not think them, it is 
abominable, and if one only expresses one's real conviction in 
words, would it not be better simply to shut one's door to people.' 

And so forth. In fact, Flaubert's patience gave way at 
last. This quarrel was made up ; so was another ; but the 
Muse had only one string to her harp, and as she played 
on it very often, Flaubert saw that there was no alternative 
except to break with her altogether, or marry her. The 
latter M^as impossible if he were to continue to live, as he 
had always lived, putting art in the first place in his life. 
The woman who was always writing, crying for more 
affection, more frequent visits, would insist on entering his 
study, disturbing his whole life. Knowing his own nervous 
temperament, he knew that he would make the Muse a 
miserable wife, and, through his own impatience of suffering 
in others, himself a miserable husband. He chose wisely. 

Possibly the connection began with an insufficient 
appreciation of what it might lead to; when it became 
clear that the Muse wished to make it permanent, Flaubert 
did his honest best to educate her up to the level of being a 
literary companion ; he failed completely. From April 1854 
Louis Bouilhet took her place as chief correspondent, so long 
as the friends lived apart. Perhaps she was right to be 
jealous after all. 



CHAPTER XII 



MADAME BOVARY 



When Flaubert was sitting in the study at Croisset in the 
summer of 1846 with Louis Bouilhet and Maxime Ducamp, 
and the question of their literary future arose, he would 
say : ' We must begin with a thunderclap."* He did. In 
1856 Madame Bovary was published in the Revue de Paris ; 
the first number appeared on October 1st. On the 24th 
of January following the author ' honoured with his pre- 
sence "* the dock of the sixth chamber of the criminal adminis- 
tration. He was charged with an outrage on morality and 
religion. The prosecution was really directed against the 
Revue de Paris, which had taken a line hostile to the Govern- 
ment, and had already been twice warned. Flaubert was 
acquitted ; but the verdict was modified by reservations of an 
uncomplimentary character. The prosecution was attended 
by the usual consequences ; it drew attention to the book, 
which had a very large sale, and its author at once took rank 
with the first literary men in France. 

While in one sense Flaubert profited by the action brought 
against him, in another he suffered a serious injury. Towards 
the end of his life he resented being spoken of as the author 
of Madame Bovary, and often expressed a wish to buy up 
all the remaining copies, and suppress the publication. He 
felt that his work had been misunderstood, and saw that 

15C 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 157 

there was some reason for the misunderstanding ; to this mis- 
understanding the prosecution had contributed by drawing 
attention exclusively to one half of the book, and ignoring 
the other half. 

We have seen that after the friends had condemned the 
first St. Antlwny to the fire, they had recommended Flaubert 
to find a subject which would leave no room for the develop- 
ment of his exaggerated lyrical tendency, and they had 
suggested the story of Delaunay. The details of this story, 
according to Maxime Ducamp, were as follows. Delaunay, 
a country-bred youth of no ability, had been at school at 
Rouen with Flaubert and Bouilhet ; he took up the study 
of medicine, became a pupil of the Pere Flaubert, passed 
examinations which qualified him to practise on the lowest 
grade in the French medical profession, as an ' officer of 
health,' and settled in a village in the neighbourhood. He 
first married an elderly woman, who was supposed to have 
money ; and, on her death, a young woman of no particular 
beauty but some pretensions to education. She was a little 
yellow-haired person, with a poor complexion, and a dumpy 
figure, but an extremely seductive voice and manner. She 
seemed to be perpetually imploring compassion. She 
despised her husband, found other admirers, entered on a 
reckless course of extravagance, was beaten by her lovers, 
ruined Delaunay, and poisoned herself just at the moment 
when it seemed that he must become aware of all her 
iniquities : he had remained blind throughout. Even her 
death and the subsequent discoveries did not destroy his 
love for her ; he sank into a deep melancholy, and, within a 
year's time, took a fatal dose of prussic acid also. Such was 
the story of Delaunay. We can imagine Rudyard Kipling 
or Guy de Maupassant rattling it off for us in a dozen pages, 
finishing up the apparently commonplace narrative with a 



158 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

surprise and a shudder. It is not the kind of story on 
which we would expect a masterpiece of fiction to be based ; 
one of those books which can only be achieved by a giant. 

In one of Flauberfs letters, he remarks that the classics 
and the Middle Ages gave us the cuckold, who was a comic 
character; modern romance gives us adultery, which is a 
serious business ; we must not then be surprised to find that 
in his hands the story of Delaunay is a very grave matter. 

We are introduced to the hero — for if the book has a 
hero, it is poor Bovary — on his first arrival at school, an 
overgrown, gawky, neglected lad, who had to take a place 
among boys smaller than himself. The usual awkwardness 
of a new boy was considerably aggravated by the fact that 
he possessed a new cap. ' It was one of those head-pieces of 
the composite order, in which are to be discovered the 
elements of the bear-skin, the Lancer''s chapska, the wide-a- 
wake, the otter-skin, and the cotton night-cap ; one of those 
poor things, in a word, whose dumb ugliness has depths of 
expression like the face of an idiot. Egg-like and puffed 
out with whalebone, it began with three circular sausages, 
then, separated by a red band, came alternate lozenges of 
velvet and rabbit-skin ; after that a kind of bag, which 
ended in a cardboard polygon covered with embroidery in 
elaborate needlework, from which hung at the end of a 
long thin cord a little cross-bar in gold thread by way of 
tassel ; it was new ; the peak was shiny."" 

After this, a description of the mother of Bovary is super- 
fluous ; such a cap indicates maternal affection in large 
quantities, free from the control of tact and taste. We are 
not surprised to learn that the new boy is an only son — his 
father was a worthless, retired army-surgeon, who had used 
his dashing appearance to secure as his wife a middle-aged, 
middle-class woman with money. The lady, rudely wakened 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 159 

from her dreams of love, took the management of her affairs 
into her own hands, and concentrated all her affections upon 
her boy, Avhom she did her best to spoil, and sent to school 
too late. 

In spite of the unpromising commencement of his school 
career, young Bovary escaped the extremity of horrors which 
might be expected to attend on so unprepossessing a youth ; 
owing to a certain unobtrusive strength and simplicity, 
which disarmed his schoolfellows, and an aimless dogged 
industry, which won the respect of his teachers. As he had 
been sent to school too late, so he was withdrawn too early, 
and consigned to solitary lodgings, provisioned from home, 
in which he pursued the study of medicine. When the time 
came he failed to pass his examination ; the time which should 
have been given to study had been devoted to dominoes ; 
his very vices were profoundly meaningless and contemptible. 
On a second attempt, having learned the answers to a large 
number of questions by heart under the direction of a 
skilled coach, Bovary was more fortunate. Then came the 
question of placing him. His mother found a suitable 
practice at the small town of Tostes, near Rouen, and a 
suitable wife in the person of a middle-aged widow of 
Dieppe, reputed to be provided with means, and to whose 
hand there were several aspirants. 'To attain her ends 
Mme. Bovary was obliged to eject them all, and she even 
showed remarkable skill in counteracting the wiles of a pork- 
butcher, who was supported by the priests."' The marriage 
did not bring Bovary much satisfaction. ' His wife was the 
master ; he had to say this, not to say that, before people ; 
to fast on Fridays, dress as she thought good, dun the 
patients who did not pay up, according to her orders.' ' In 
the evenings, when Charles came back, she put her long thin 
arms out from under the sheets, passed them around his 



160 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

neck, and having made him sit on the edge of the bed, 
began to tell him her troubles : he forgot her, he loved 
another ! People had been quite right to tell her that she 
would be unhappy. And she would finish up by asking him 
for some syrup for her cough and a little more love.** Nor 
was the good lady without some reason for her jealousy. A 
well-to-do farmer in the neighbourhood, a widower living 
with an only daughter, chanced to break his leg ; Bovary 
was called in and successfully reduced the fracture — a very 
simple one. The father was astounded at the skill of his 
medical man, the daughter no less so : his visits became 
vranecessarily frequent. At this juncture it was suddenly 
discovered that the widow of Dieppe had exaggerated the 
amount of her property ; a terrific scene ensued between her 
and Bo vary ""s mother. ' Eight days afterwards, as she was 
hanging out linen in her courtyard, she was taken with a 
spitting of blood, and the following day, while Charles had 
his back turned to draw the window curtains, she said : " Oh, 
my God ! "" uttered a sigh, and fainted. She was dead. 
What an amazing thing ! "* ' When all was ended at the 
cemetery, Charles went home. He found nobody down- 
stairs ; he went up to the first floor, in their room he saw 
her dress still hanging at the foot of the bed ; then leaning 
against the bureau, he remained till evening lost in a dream 
of sorrow. After all, she had loved him."* 

The Pere Rouault, grateful for the restoration of his 
health, took pains to comfort the young widower ; he had 
himself passed through misfortune, and Charles became 
a frequent visitor at Les Bertaux. The inevitable duly 
followed. Charles married Mile. Rouault. The young lady 
was distinguished by an elegance not to be expected in the 
daughter of a country farmer : she had been brought up in 
a convent at Rouen in a manner rather above her station. 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 161 

When her father first took her to school, they had dined in 
a restaurant where the plates were ornamented with edifying 
scenes from the life of Mademoiselle de la Valliere and 
Louis XIV. The routine of the convent at first charmed 
her. ' When she went to confession she invented little sins 
in order to stay longer on her knees in the dusk, with her 
hands joined, her face close to the grating and the whispering 
priest.' ' Instead of following the mass she used to look at 
the sacred pictures in her book with their azure borders, 
and she loved the sick lamb, the heart pierced with pointed 
arrows, or Jesus falling under the cross as He walks. She 
tried by way of mortification to remain a whole day without 
eating. She racked her brains for some vow to accomplish."* 
But the convent introduced her also to other than religious 
emotions. Every month an old maid used to come and 
spend a week there, overhauling and repairing the linen ; 
she was the daughter of a noble family ruined by the 
Revolution, and was protected by the Archbishop, owing 
to the devotion of her noble ancestors to the Church. She 
not only knew all the current gossip, and was a mine of 
songs and tales of old-world gallantries, but she also 
smuggled romances in the pocket of her apron. 'There 
was nothing but love, lovers, ladies, persecuted maidens 
swooning in lonely pavilions, postilions killed at every 
relay, horses falling dead on every page, sombre forests, 
agitations of the heart, oaths, sobs, tears, and kisses, boats 
and moonlights, nightingales in thickets, gentlemen brave 
as lions, gentle as lambs, virtuous as nobody ever was, 
always well dressed, and weeping like the urns on tomb- 
stones.'' Her school-fellows used to bring copies of the 
Keepsake back after the holidays, ' full of portraits of lovely 
ladies in luxurious surroundings, of landscapes in which 
palms, pines, fir-trees, lions, tigers, minarets, Roman ruins, 

L 



162 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

crouching camels were framed in a well-kept virgin forest, 
through which was seen a moonlit lake, with floating swans."* 
The very songs which she learned helped to intensify the 
romantic unrealities of the world of her imagination. 
' When her mother died, she wept abundantly for the first 
few days. She had a funeral card made for her with the 
hair of the defunct, and, in a letter which she sent to Les 
Bertaux, full of melancholy reflections on life, she begged 
to be buried hereafter in the same tomb. Her worthy 
father thought she was ill, and came to see her. Emma 
was inwardly delighted to feel herself suddenly arrived at 
that rare ideal of pallid existence which mediocre hearts 
never reach.' In due time her grief evaporated, and then 
she began to disappoint the nuns, who had hoped to retain 
her, 'This mind positive in the midst of its enthusiasms, 
which had loved the Church for its flowers, music for the 
words of songs, literature for its excitement of the emotions, 
rose in rebellion before the mysteries of faith, and in the 
same way was still more irritated by the conventual 
discipline, a thing antipathetic to her constitution."' She 
was removed from the convent, and went to keep house for 
her father ; pleased at first with the responsibility and the 
management of servants, she soon began to feel herself 
buried in the country, and regretted her convent. 

Charles Bovary had appeared to her as a man of science, 
a being quite superior to the coarse rustics, whose awkward 
addresses were the only possible interruption to the 
monotony of her life at the farm. She saw in him a 
deliverer. 

The marriage was celebrated with a prodigious feasting, 
a riot of the material side of life, violently contrasting with 
the moonlights of Emma"'s romantic imagining. The honey- 
moon soon waned, had been wanting in flavour; there had 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 163 

been no travelling in those operatic landscapes of which her 
mind was full ; perhaps this was the cause of the failure. 
'It seemed to her that certain spots on the earth must 
produce happiness, like a plant peculiar to one soil, and 
which grows badly anywhere else. Why could she not 
lean on the balcony of a Swiss chalet, or harbour her 
melancholy in a Scotch bothie, with a husband clothed in 
a black velvet coat with long skirts, wearing soft boots, a 
pointed hat, and lace cuffs ?' 

Charles, on the contrary, was enraptured ; each of Emma''s 
little domestic refinements surprised him more than the last ; 
she even talked of finger-glasses for dessert. He was never 
weary of watching her draw, hearing her play the piano, 
'the quicker her fingers ran over the keys, the more 
astounded he was."" Meanwhile his conversation was not 
equally interesting to his wife ; ' when at Rouen he had 
never cared to go to the theatre to see the actors from 
Paris ; he could neither swim, nor fence, nor use a pistol ; 
and then his boots were appalling in shape and size. She 
recited impassioned verses to him in the garden by moon- 
light, sang melancholy slow music ; found herself afterwards 
as calm as before those experiments, and Charles no more 
amorous than usual ; before long she began to ask herself 
why she had ever married,' 

These mournful reveries were interrupted by an event. 
The Marquis de Vaubyessard, a local magnate contemplating 
political life, determined to give a ball. Charles had 
attended him for some small ailment successfully; he had 
called, seen Madame Bovary, found that her manners were 
good ; she and Bovary were invited to the ball, and to spend 
the night at Vaubyessard. 

The stateliness of the house, its historic pictures, an aged 
duke reputed to have been the lover of Marie Antoinette, 



164 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

inclined Madame Bovary to believe that here was her world of 
romance realised ; she discovered herself to be better-looking 
than many of the ladies, at least as well-mannered. Nor 
was there wanting a suggestion of moral corruption ; she 
saw a lady skilfully pass a little note to a gentleman, she 
waltzed with a Vicomte, became giddy, found herself leaning 
in his arms. The next day on the way home, while stopping 
to re-arrange the harness, Charles picked up an embroidered 
cigar-case. The Vicomte had shortly before passed them on 
horseback ; doubtless the case was his, it was adorned with 
a coronet. Emma annexed and kept this cigar-case. 

After this Madame Bovary gave way to a deeper melan- 
choly ; she spent her time reading the works of Eugene Sue, 
of Balzac, of Georges Sand. Paris floated before her mind ; 
she even bought a map of the town, and amused herself 
with making imaginary expeditions. She added to the 
small elegancies of her establishment, 'bought a blotting- 
book, stationery case, pen-tray, envelopes, although she 
had no one to write to ; she wished to travel, or return to 
the convent ; she longed at one and the same time to die, 
and to live at Paris.'' 

After a while she began to neglect everything, sank into 
an aimless sadness, became irritable : ' some days she 
chattered with a feverish exaltation ; this state of excite- 
ment was all of a sudden succeeded by a long torpor, and she 
remained without speaking or moving. She was then brought 
round by sprinkling a bottle of eau-de-Cologne on her arms.** 

She continually complained of Tostes, and Charles there- 
fore imagined that the place was unsuitable to her health ; 
he looked out for another practice, and found it in a large 
village or small town called Yonville-FAbbaye. In making 
preparations for her departure Emma came across her 
wedding bouquet. She burned it. 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 165 

English travellers who know the appearance of the country 
round Amiens need no description of the melancholy land- 
scape which surrounds Yonville-FAbbaye ; the character of 
the sluggish Somme extends to its tributaries and the 
adjacent streams. For a picture of the place itself we need 
not go far from home ; Thame, Stony Stratford, Olney, 
Calne, Devizes, Leominster, and hundreds of other English 
comitry towns, are neither more nor less than Yonville. 
The place was duly provided with a church, a priest, a 
smithy, market-house, mayor, hotel, restaurant, lawyer, but 
its chief glory was its chemist and druggist : ' what attracts 
the eye most is the shop of M. Homais, opposite the Golden 
Lion. Above all, when its large lamp is lit in the evening, 
and the green and red bottles that embellish its front 
throw their twin illuminations far away on the ground, like 
Bengal lights, and the shadow of the druggist leaning on 
his desk is seen between them. His house from top to 
bottom is placarded with inscriptions written in English 
hand, romid-hand, in large type : " Vichy Water, Seltzer 
Water, Bareges Water, Cleansing Rubbers, RaspaiPs Medi- 
cines, Ai'abian Racahout, Darcefs Pastilles, Regnaulfs 
Electuary, Bandages, Baths, Medicated Chocolate,'" etc., 
and the sign, which occupies the whole width of the shop, 
bears in letters of gold : " Homais, Pharmacist." Then at 
the back of the shop, behind the great scales riveted to the 
counter, the word "Laboratory"" is revealed above a glass 
door, which once more repeats half-way up " Homais "" in 
gilt letters on a black ground.'' 

Yonville is twenty-four miles from Rouen, and every day 
an omnibus used to run backwards and forwards from the 
Golden Lion, of which the widow Lefran^ois was proprie- 
tress. On the evening on which the Bovary family were to 
arrive M. Homais awaited them at the inn : ' a man in 



166 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

green leather slippers, somewhat marked with small-pox, 
wearing a green velvet cap with a gold tassel, was warming 
his back at the fire. His face expressed nothing but self- 
complacency.' 

The company assembled at the Golden Lion included 
Binet, the collector of taxes, an ex-carbineer, a very 
methodical personage, who spent most of his time at a 
turning-lathe, and M. Leon Dupuis, a young man lodging 
with Honiais, and articled clerk to M. Guillaumin, the 
lawyer. These persons dined there regularly. On the 
arrival of the Hirondelle with the Bovarys, dinner was at 
once served ; young Duj)uis and Homais joined the party 
of the new-comers ; Homais asking permission to wear his 
cap, for fear of neuralgia. He proceeded forthwith to 
introduce Bovary to his new practice : ' for the rest the 
prosecution of Medicine is not very troublesome in our 
country ; for the state of the roads permits the use of the 
carriage, and, generally speaking, the people pay satis- 
factorily, the agriculturists being well off. In the strictly 
medical connection, apart from the ordinary cases of 
enteritis, bronchitis, biliary affections, etc., we have from 
time to time intermittent fevers at the period of harvest, 
but in general few grave illnesses, nothing specially to be 
noticed, if it is not a large number of cold humours, which 
are doubtless due to the deplorable hygienic conditions of 
the dwellings of our peasantry. Ah ! you will find many 
prejudices to contend against, M. Bovary, much obstinate 
adherence to routine, against which all the efforts of your 
science will daily have to stumble ; for recourse is still had 
to prayers, relics, the clergyman, rather than come naturally 
to the physician or the druggist. The climate however is 
not, so to say, bad, and we even reckon in our community 
some nonagenarians. The thermometer (I have myself 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 167 

taken observations) goes down in winter to seven degrees 
Fahrenheit, and in the hot season reaches twenty-five to 
thirty degrees Centigrade at the most, which gives us 
twenty-four degrees Reaumur as a maximum, otherwise 
fifty-four Fahrenheit (Enghsh reckoning), not more ! — (note, 
30 Centigrade is really 85 Fahrenheit — Homais uses his 
figures at random) — and, in fact, we are sheltered from the 
north winds by the forest of Argueil on one side, from the 
west winds on the other by the hillside of Saint-Jean ; and 
yet this heat, which is caused by the watery vapour given 
off by the river, and the presence of considerable numbers 
of cattle in our meadows who exhale, as you know, much 
ammonia, that is to say, azote, hydrogen and oxygen (no, 
azote and hydrogen only), and which, drawing to itself the 
"humus" of the earth, confounding all these different 
emanations, uniting them in one bundle, so to speak, and 
combining of itself with the electricity spread in the 
atmosphere, where there is any, might in the long-run, as 
in tropical countries, engender insalubrious miasmas. This 
heat, I say, is tempered precisely on the side from which it 
comes, or rather from which it would come, that is to say 
on the south side, by the south-east winds, which, being 
cooled of themselves by passing over the Seine, reach us 
sometimes all of a sudden like blasts from Russia.' 

Meanwhile M. Leon Dupuis and Madame Bovary have 
discovered that they have the same taste in sunsets, in 
books, the same discontent with the things that immediately 
surround them. 'It is so pleasant,"* observed the clerk, 
' among the disillusionments of life to be able to repose 
upon the ideal of noble characters, of pure affections, and of 
pictures of happiness. As for me, living here out of the 
world, it is my only distraction, but Yonville offers so few 
resources V 



168 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

' Like Tostes, doubtless,*' replied Emma, ' and so I always 
subscribed to a lending library/ 

' If Madame Bovary will do me the honour to make use of 
it,' said the druggist, who had just heard the last words, *I 
have myself a library at her disposal composed of the best 
authors, Voltaire, Rousseau, Delille, Walter Scott, the 
Echoes of the Magazines, etc., and I am further in receipt 
of several periodicals, among them the Rouen Beacon daily, 
having the advantage of being its correspondent for the 
centres of Buchy, Forges, Neufchatel, Yonville, and the 
neighbourhood."' In course of time the new arrivals with- 
drew from the fascinations of the Golden Lion and Homais 
to their own house, where, although they found everything 
in confusion, Emma hoped to enjoy a better future. It 
could not be worse than the past. 

Things, however, did not go particularly well at first with 
either member of the Bovary household at Yonville. Clients 
were some time in appearing, and the interested friendship 
of M. Homais failed to compensate for their absence. 
Though M. Homais was the victim of an irresistible impulse 
to concern himself with other peoplc''s affairs in general, he 
had a particular reason for being friendly to Bovary ; he 
had infringed the law which forbids unlicensed persons to 
exercise medical functions, and had been comminated by 
the Procm-eur du Roi at Rouen. 

Meanwhile Madame Bovary became a mother ; she had 
wished for a son, who should be strong and swarthy, and 
called George, but fate determined that her first-born 
should be a daughter. She consoled herself for the dis- 
appointment by seeking for a sufficiently romantic name for 
the infant, such as Amanda, Galsuinda, Yseult, or Leocadia. 
'M. Homais, for his part, had a predilection for all those 
names which recalled a sreat man, an illustrious action, or 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 169 

a noble thought, and it was in obedience to this system that 
he had baptized his own four children ; thus, Napoleon 
represented Glory, Franklin Liberty, Irene was perhaps 
a concession to romanticism, but Athaliah was certainly a 
homage to the most immortal masterpiece of the French 
stage.' Eventually, the child was called Bertha, Madame 
Bovary having heard this name addressed by the Marchioness 
to a young lady at Vaubyessard. 

The child was put out to nurse, after the French fashion ; 
the foster-mother. Mere Rolet, a labourer's wife, lived in the 
outskirts of Yonville, and Madame Bovary, on her convales- 
cence, paid a visit to her child. She happened to encounter 
M. Leon Dupuis on her way, whose escort she accepted. From 
this time Madame Bovary became the divinity of M. Leon's 
dreams ; she had also awakened sentiments of tender adora- 
tion in the breast of Justin, a youth distantly related to M. 
Homais, who fulfilled many and various functions in the 
establishment of that luminary of science. 

Homais' benevolent attentions to the house of Bovary 
continued ; he would come in during dinner, and seat himself 
at the side of the table. ' He used to ask the doctor for 
news of his patients, and the latter would consult him as 
to the probabilities of payment. Then they would talk of 
" what there was in the paper." Homais, by this hour of 
the day, knew it almost by heart, and he repeated it, word 
for word, with the leaders of the journalists, and all the 
stories of disasters that had happened in France or abroad. 
But, the subject running dry, he did not refrain from giving 
vent to some observations on the dishes that he saw. Some- 
times even, half-rising, he would delicately point out to 
Madame Bovary the tenderest morsel, or, turning to the 
maid, addressed advice to her on the manipulation of 
hashes and the hygiene of seasonings ; he talked aromas, 



170 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

osmazone, juices, and gelatine in a way to make one giddy. 
His head, moreover, being more full of recipes than his shop 
was of bottles, Homais excelled in making quantities of 
preserves, vinegars, and sweet liqueurs ; he knew, too, all the 
last inventions in economical stoves, with the art of keeping 
cheeses and doctoring sick wines."* 

On Sunday evenings Madame Homais was 'at home.' 
The Bovarys attended regularly. Leon also ; there were 
seldom other guests. After a round game, Charles and 
Homais would play at dominoes, while Leon read poetry to 
Emma. Thus there gradually grew up confidential relations 
between the young clerk and the doctor''s wife ; she took a 
maternal interest in his aifairs, presented him with a warm 
rug ; meanwhile Leon tortured himself to find a suitable 
opportunity to declare his passion. At this period Madame 
Bovary made the acquaintance of a certain M. Lheureux, 
a haberdasher and upholsterer of Yonville, who not only 
offered his goods but long credit ; he would even advance 
money, if necessary. For the present Ennna kept him at a 
distance. 

Eventually Madame Bovary divined the passion of her 
young admirer, and discovered that her own heart was also 
touched ; she proceeded to indulge herself in the luxury of 
a romantic virtue. 

' She heard steps on the staircase ; it was Leon. She got up, 
and took the first of a pile of dusters from the table, which were 
there to be hemmed. She seemed very busy when he appeared. 

'The conversation was desultory, Madame Bovary dropping 
it every minute ; while he stayed there entirely awkward. 
Seated on a low chair near the fireplace, he turned the ivory 
workcase in his fingers ; she pushed her needle on from time to 
time, smoothed out the creases in the stuff with her nail. She 
did not speak ; he held his tongue, captivated by her silence, as 
he would have been by her words. 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 171 

' " Poor fellow ! " thought she. 

' " Why doesn't she like me ? " he asked himself. 

' Leon, however, ended by saying that he must one of these 
days go to Rouen on office business. " Your subscription at the 
music-seller's is out ; shall I renew it ? " 

'•'No," she replied. 

' " Why ? " 

'"Because " and tightening her lips, she slowly drew 

out a long needleful of grey thread. 

'This work irritated Leon. Emma's fingers seemed to get 
sore at the end from it ; a gallant phrase came into his head, 
but he did not venture on it. 

' " Then you give it up ? " he resumed. 

'"What?" said she sharply. "The music? Oh, heavens ! 
Yes ! Have I not my house to keep, my husband to attend to, 
a thousand things, numbers of duties, which come before 
that ? " 

'She looked at the clock. Charles was late. Then she 
played the part of the anxious wife. Two or three times even 
she repeated : 

' " He is so good ! " 

' The clerk had an affection for M. Bovary. But this tender- 
ness in his direction surprised him disagreeably : none the less 
he continued his praises, which, he said, he heard everybody 
utter, above all the chemist. 

' " Ah ! he is a fine man," resumed Emma. 

' " Surely," replied the clerk. 

' And he began to speak of Madame Homais, whose neglected 
toilette generally formed a subject of amusement for them. 

'"What does that matter?" interrupted Emma. "A good 
mother does not concern herself about her dress." 

' Then she relapsed into silence. 

' It was the same on the following day ; her conversation, 
her manners, everything changed. She was observed to take 
her housekeeping more to heart, to go to church regularly, 
and to rule her servant with greater strictness. 

' She took Bertha away from the nurse. Felicite used to 
bring her in, when there were visitors, and Madame Bovary 
would undress her, in order to show her limbs. She declared 



172 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

she adored children ; she was her comfort, her joy, her folly, 
and she accompanied her caresses with lyrical overflowings, 
which would have reminded any but the good folk of Yon- 
ville of La Sachette in Notre Dame de Paris' 

As she devoted herself to her household and her child, 
so Madame Bovary also devoted herself to her husband. 
Charles was never so well looked after as at this period. But 
a reaction followed, and the nervous attacks returned. Emma 
again believed herself to be miserable. 

One evening the tinkling of the Angelus recalled her 
convent days to her ; she rose and walked to the church, 
' longing for devotion in some form, no matter what, pro- 
vided she might absorb her whole soul in it, that in it her 
whole existence might disappear.' 

In the churchyard a number of boys were playing ; they 
were a confirmation class waiting for the priest. 

' " Where is the clergyman ? " Madame Bovary asked a young 
boy, who was amusing himself with shaking the turnstile on its 
slack pivot. 

' " He is just coming," he replied. 

' In fact the door of the presbytery grated ; the Abbe Bour- 
nisien appeared ; the children fled into the church headlong. 

'"Those rascals!" muttered the ecclesiastic; "always the 
same ! " 

'And picking up a tattered catechism, over which he had 
just stumbled : 

' " They respect nothing ! " 

' But as soon as he perceived Madame Bovary : 

'"Excuse me," said he, "I did not recognise you." 

' He stuffed the catechism into his pocket, and stopped, con- 
tinuing to swing the heavy key of the sacristy between two 
fingers. 

' The glow of the setting sun, which fell full on his face, 
made the stuff of his cassock look shabby, shiny at the elbows, 
as it was, frayed at the edges. Spots of grease and snufF 
followed the line of little buttons on his broad chest ; and they 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 173 

became more numerous the further they were from his collar, 
where rested the abundant folds of his red skin^ spotted with 
yellow blotches, which disappeared in the coarse greyish 
hairs on his chin. He had just finished dinner, and breathed 
noisily. 

' " How are you .^ '' he added. 

' " Not very well," replied Emma ; " I am out of health." 

'"Well, well ! So am I," replied the clergyman. " This first 
heat is astoundingly enervating, is it not .'' Still, you know, 
it cannot be otherwise ; we are born to suffering, as St. Paul 
says. But what does M. Bovary think about it .'' " 

' " He ! " she said, with a contemptuous gesture. 

' " What ! " resumed the good fellow in amazement ; " he does 
not prescribe for you ? " 

'"Ah!" said Emma; "it is not earthly remedies that I 
require." 

' But the clergyman from time to time looked into the 
church, where all the boys, kneeling in a row, kept shoving 
one another with their shoulders, and falling over like a pack of 
cards. 

'" I should like to know ..." she resumed. 

'"Wait, wait, Riboudet," cried the ecclesiastic in a wrathful 
voice, " I '11 come and warm your ears for you, naughty scamp ! " 

Then turning to Emma : 

'" It is the son of Boudet the carpenter ; his parents are well 
off, and let him have his own way, and yet he would learn 
quickly, if he chose, for he is full of understanding. And I, 
sometimes by way of a joke, I just call him Riboudet (after the 
hill by which you go up to Maromme from Rouen), and I even 
say : Mont Riboudet, ha ! ha ! Mont Riboudet ! The other day 
I told His Grace this joke, and he laughed at it ... he 
deigned to laugh at it." ' 

Worthy fellow though he was, the Abbe Bournisien was 
not the kind of ecclesiastic to comprehend poor Emma's 
troubles, and the interview ended in disappointment. After 
the good clergyman had taken a rapid disciplinary excursion 
into the church : 

' " Come/' said he, when he had returned to Emma, unfold- 



174 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

ing his lai-ge bandana handkerchief, a coniei' of which he put 
between his teeth, " the farmers are much to be pitied ! " 

"'There are others too," she rephed. 

' " Certainly ! the artisans in the towns, for instance." 

' " It is not they that ..." 

' " Pardon me ! I have known poor mothers, virtuous women, 
veritable saints, I assure you, who were even short of bread." 

'"But those," resumed Emma (and the corners of her mouth 
twitched as she spoke), " those, M. Bournisien, who have bread, 
and who have not ..." 

' " Winter firing," said the priest. 

' " Oh ! what does that matter ? " 

' " What does that matter } I must say it seems to me that 
when one is well warmed, well fed . . . for indeed ..." 

' " My God ! my God ! " she sighed. 

' " You are in pain } " said he, approaching with an anxious 
air ; " it is indigestion, doubtless ? You must go home, Mme. 
Bovary, and drink a little tea ; that will strengthen you, or per- 
haps a glass of cold water with some brown sugar." 

' " Why ? " 

' And she had the air of some one waking from a dream. 

' " You were passing your hand over your foi*ehead. I thought 
you felt a giddiness." ' 

And so the conversation ended. As Emma walked away, 
she heard the clergyman and his confirmation class : ' Are 
you a Christian ? ' ' Yes, I am a Christian.' ' What is a 
Christian ? ' ' He is one who being baptized — baptized — 
baptized — '' 

On her return home Madame Bovary gave way to her 
irritable nerves so far as to knock over the unfortunate 
Bertha, by this time in the toddling stage, so that the 
child's face was cut against the corner of the table ; then 
she was seized with a furious attack of maternal tenderness, 
and lied about the cause of the accident. 

M. Leon left Yonville without declaring his passion to 
Emma, without divining that it was returned : lie went 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 175 

to Paris to finish his course of legal study there. On the 
occasion of his departure the great Homais gave expression 
to the views of a provincial on the subject of the capital. 

' " Come ! come," said the chemist, smacking his tongue, 
"stylish dinners at the restaurant, masked balls, champagne 
— there will be fine goings on, I assure you." 

' " I do not think he will go to the bad," objected Bovary. 

' " Nor I," replied Homais smartly, " although he will 
certainly have to follow the rest at the risk of being taken for a 
Jesuit. And you don't know the life that these rascals lead in 
the Quartier Latin with the actresses ! Moreover, the students 
are very well received at Paris. If they have some little talent 
for making themselves agreeable, they are admitted to the best 
society, and there are even great ladies in the Faubourg Saint 
Germain who fall in love with them, which in the end gives 
them the opportunity of making very advantageous marriages." 

' " But," said the doctor, " I am afraid for him that . . . 
there ..." 

'"You are right," interrupted the apothecary, "there is a 
reverse to the medal ! And one must continually have one's 
hand over one's breeches-pocket there. Thus : suppose you 
are in a public garden, a somebody presents himself, well 
dressed, even wearing a riband, and the sort of person one 
would take for a diplomatist ; he addresses you ; you talk ; he 
is insinuating, offers you a pinch of snuff, or picks up your hat 
for you. Then a closer connection is established ; he takes you 
to a cafe, invites you to his country house, introduces you to all 
kinds of acquaintances between two glasses of wine ; and three 
parts of the time it is only to plunder your purse for you, or 
lead you into vicious courses." ' 

The departure of Leon left Madame Bovary in a very 
miserable condition ; she tried to console herself witli the 
cultivation of her tastes : bought herself an elegant blue 
cashmere dress, and a bright-coloured scarf ; took to dress- 
ing her hair in a variety of different ways, began to learn 
Italian, began to read philosophy, began to study history, 



176 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

began an infinity of things, all of which she abandoned. 
Charles became anxious about her health ; he invited his 
mother to pay a visit ; the mother-in-law and daughter-in- 
law quarrelled. 

One day a country gentleman, who lived just outside 
Yonville, brought one of his farm men to be bled by 
Bovary. Justin from the chemist's shop, who had been 
asked to help, fainted at the sight of blood, so did the 
patient ; Madame Bovary herself was forced to come to 
assist in the surgery, and was thus introduced to M. Rodolph 
Boulanger. 

' He was at that time thirty-four years old ; he was of an 
animal temperament and clear intelligence, having moreover 
had much to do with women, and understanding them well. 
This one had appeared to him good-looking ; so he continued 
to think of her and her husband. 

' " I imagine he is very stupid. She is doubtless tired of him. 
He has dirty nails, and has not shaved for three days. While 
he trots after his patients, she remains darning stockings. And 
she is bored, would like to live in town, dance the polka every 
evening ! Poor little woman ! She gasps for love like a carp 
on a kitchen-table for water. Three words of gallantry, and 
she would adore one, I am sure of it ; it would be tender, charm- 
ing ! ! ! ! Yes, but how to get rid of her afterwards ? " ' 

Eventually this small country squire made up his mind to 
try the experiment, and the occasion on which he avowed 
his passion was that of the great Agricultural Show, which 
was held at Yonville ; not without some previous working 
of the oracle on the part of Homais, through the medium of 
the Rouen Beacon. 

At the Agricultural Show Flaubert brings together the 
two threads which run through the whole book ; on the one 
side, we have Homais victorious, and the whole atmosphere 
in which such persons live and thrive is in full vibration 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 177 

around us ; on the other, Emma's romantic aspirations are 
satisfied : she finds herself in possession of a lover, wealthy, 
well-dressed, good-looking. While the notables are har- 
anguing the assembled agriculturists in the approved style, 
Rodolph eqvially in the approved style is stimulating the 
romantic passions of Emma. Both Rodolph's love-making 
and the political rhapsodies of the ofl^cials are alike stale, 
commonplace, in every way contemptible. The whole thing 
is summed up as follows : — 

'M. Derozerays got up, beginning another discourse. His 
speech was perhaps not so flowery as that of the Councillor; 
but it was recommended by a more positive character in its 
style — that is to say, by more special knowledge and more 
elevated reflections. Accordingly the praise of the Govern- 
ment occupied less room in it ; religion and agriculture more. 
The connection between the one and the other was explained, 
and how they had always uuited in the cause of civilisation. 
Rodolph was talking to Madame Bovary of dreams, presenti- 
ments, magnetism. Going back to the cradle of society, the 
orator depicted to you those savage times when men lived on 
nuts in the depths of forests. Then they had abandoned the 
skins of wild beasts, put on clothes, ploughed furrows, planted 
the vine. Was this last an advantage .'' Was not this discovery 
after all attended by serious drawbacks .'' M. Derozerays 
propounded that problem. From magnetism Rodolph had 
gradually come to affinities, and while the President was quoting 
Cincinnatus at his plough, Diocletian planting his cabbages, and 
the Emperors of China inaugurating the year with sowing, the 
young man was explaining to the young wife that these 
irresistible attractions were due to some anterior existence. 

' " So, take our own case," said he, " why did we come to know 
one another ? What chance willed that ? It is doubtless 
because our special inclinations, like two rivers, which flow to 
meet, had driven us through space to one another." 

'And he seized her hand; she did not draw it back.' 

The description of the Agricultural Show ends with the 

M 



178 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

account which Hoinais wrote of it, and published in the 
Rouen Beacon. 

The whole of this chapter, which alike in its design and 
its execution lifts Flaubert above the level of the mere novel- 
writer, in which the commonplaces of passion are artfully 
contrasted, and associated with the commonplaces of middle- 
class ambition, the result being a full, searching satire, un- 
surpassed in any literature, would have been cut out, if 
Flaubert had followed the advice of Maxime Ducamp and 
his co-editor of the Revue de Paris, Laurence Pichat. It is 
true that this is a very different thing from the story of 
Delavuiay ; as Flaubert himself was a very different jierson 
from Balzac, or Georges Sand, or Alphonse Daudet, or 
Cherbuliez. 

Before long Madame Bovary had entirely abandoned herself 
to Rodolph ; but in the end mere adultery proved to her no 
more satisfactory than marriage : she began to vn^ge Rodolph 
to run away with her ; meanwhile her romantics had begun 
to frighten him, and he tlid rim away — without her. 

The result was a brain-fever, from which she recovered to 
encounter the pecuniary difficulties in which she had by this 
time allowed Lheureux to entangle her. 

During the course of her intrigue with Rodolph, Homais 
had on his side debauched poor Charles, There was an 
ostler at the Golden Lion, one Hippolyte, who suffered from 
the deformity of a club-foot. Homais had read somewhere 
in a newspaper of a method of curing this ; he hunted u}) 
references, turned out books, and though Hippolyte was as 
active as a hare, persuaded him to allow Bovary to operate. 
The operation failed ; the leg became gangrened and had to 
be amj)utatcd. The ignominy of the failure rested with 
Charles, who had further to submit to the contem])t of his 
wife. 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 179 

Emma's recovery from illness seemed to restore happiness 
to the household. The Abbe Bournisien, who had been 
summoned at the crisis of her illness, used to come to drink 
cider in the arbom-, and even Binet proved sociable. Lagardy 
being advertised to sing at Rouen shortly, Homais advised a 
visit to the theatre as a means of cheering the convalescent ; 
Charles at once fell in with his plan ; Emma, after showing 
a little reluctance, consented. 

The opera was ' Lucia di Lammermoor "* ; all Emma's 
romance was at once awakened : the personality of the singer 
himself, reputed to travel with three mistresses, was exciting. 
M. Leon Dupuis, now in an office at Rouen, having finished 
his com-se at Paris, happened to be present at the perform- 
ance; he saw and recognised the Bovary party, came to 
speak to them. Charles was delighted to meet his old friend 
again : Emma was so much restored by the opera that he 
suggested she should stay another day and go to the theatre 
again ; M. Leon would escort her. This plan was agreed to. 

The following day Bovary returned to Yonville, but 
Emma remained at Rouen. Leon called on her. He was 
no longer the timid youth ; he had had experience at Paris ; 
he re-opened the chapter of sentiment at once. Emma held 
him at a distance, while looking back sentimentally to their 
former friendship) ; she agreed, however, to meet him the 
next day at eleven o'clock at the Cathedral. 

As soon as he was gone she wrote an interminable letter 
withdrawing from the assignation ; then remembered that 
she had no address whereto it could be sent, and decided to 
give it him herself at the Cathedral. 

Leon rose early, put on his best clothes, submitted him- 
self to the hairdresser, bought some violets, arrived at the 
Cathedral before the time ; boldly entered the church. 

'The Swiss (verger in a very glorious uniform) was at that 



180 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

moment standing on the threshold in the middle of the north 
door beneath the " Dancing Miriam," his plume on his head, 
rapier at his calf, cane in his hand, more majestic than a 
cardinal, and shining like a monstrance. 

' He advanced towards Leon, and with that smile of coaxing 
benignity which ecclesiastics adopt when they question children : 

* " The gentleman doubtless is a stranger ? He would like to 
see the curiosities of the church ? " 

' " No," said the other. 

' He first made the circuit of the aisles. Then he went to 
look out into the squai'e. Emma was not coming. He went 
back to the choir. . . . The Swiss at a distance was inwardly 
indignant at this individual, who presumed to admire the Cathe- 
dral alone. He seemed to be conducting himself in a monstrous 
fashion, to be robbing him in some sort, and almost to be com- 
mitting a sacrilege. 

' But a rustle of silk on the pavement, the brim of a hat, a 
black mantle. ... It was she ! Leon rose and ran to meet 
her. 

' Emma was pale ; she walked fast. 

' " Read ! " said she, giving him a paper. ..." Oh no ! " 

' And she sharply withdrew her hand to go to the Lady Chapel, 
where, kneeling against a chair, she began to pray. 

' The young man was irritated at this whim of devotion ; then 
he experienced a certain charm in seeing her thus lost in prayer 
in the middle of an assignation, like an Andalusian Marchioness ; 
then he was annoyed, for she seemed never likely to stop. 

'Emma prayed, or rather strove to pray, hoping that some 
sudden resolution would descend to her from heaven ; and to 
attract the divine succour she filled her eyes with the splen- 
dours of the altar, she breathed the perfume of the white 
flowers displayed in the great vases, and listened to the silence 
of the church, which only increased the tumult of her own 
heart. 

' Then she rose, and was departing when the Swiss came up 
quickly, saying : 

' " The lady is doubtless a stranger .'' She wishes to see the 
curiosities of the church .'' " 

' " No ! " cried the clerk. 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 181 

' " Why not ? " replied she. 

'For her tottering virtue clutched at the Virgin, at the 
sculptures, at the tombs, at every vantage. 

'Then in order to proceed methodically, the Swiss conducted 
them to the entrance near the square, and there showing them 
with his cane a great circle of black stones in the pavement 
without inscription or carving : 

' " There," said he majestically, " is the circumference of the 
great bell of Amboise. It weighed forty thousand pounds. It 
had not its equal in Europe. The workmen who cast it died 
of delight. . . ." 

'"Let us go," said Leon.' 

But he was not to have his way ; the triumphant Swiss 
drove them round the tombs and altars, and was on the 
point of forcing them to ascend the spire, when Leon dragged 
Madame Bovary out of the Cathedral and hailed a cab, just 
in time to escape the panting Swiss, who was in hot pursuit 
with a bundle of some twenty volumes. They were works 
' which treated of the Cathedral.' A delay in the arrival of 
the cab gave him time to implore them at least to go out by 
the north door, and see ' The Resurrection ,"* ' The Last Judg- 
ment,' ' The Paradise,' ' The King David,' and ' The Damned 
in the Flames of Hell.' 

At first Madame Bovary objected to embarking in the 
cab on the ground of propriety, but upon being told by 
Leon that this was usual in Paris she allowed her scruples 
to be overcome. 

That vehicle travelled through the whole of Rouen and 
the outskirts. 

' It was seen at Saint Pol, at Lescure, at Mont Gargon, at la 
Rouge-Mare, and in the square of Gaillard-bois ; in the Rue 
Maladrerie, Rue Dinanderie, in front of Saint-Romain, Saint 
Vivien, Saint Maclou, Saint Nicaise ; before the Custom House, 
at the Basse Vieille Tour, at the Trois Pipes, and the Memorial 
Cemetery. From time to time the driver on his box threw 



182 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

despairing glances at the public-houses. He did not understand 
the mania for locomotion which imposed on these individuals so 
strong an objection to a halt. He sometimes tried to stop, and 
immediately he heard wrathful exclamations behind him. Then 
he whipped up his two jades to the best of his power, heated 
as they were, and went on, without taking any notice of jolts, 
running over the curbstones here and there, caring for nothing, 
demoralised, and almost ciying with thii'st, fatigue, and de- 
speration. 

' On the quay in the middle of the trucks and barrels, in the 
streets, at the corners of the pavements, the trades-folk opened 
great wondering eyes at this thing, so extraordinary in the 
province — a carriage with its blinds drawn, thus continually 
appearing, closer than a tomb, and swaying like a ship. 

' Once in the middle of the day, out in the country, at the 
moment when the sun shone its strongest on the old plated 
lamps, a bare hand passed under the little yellow curtains and 
threw away fragments of paper, which scattered in the wind, 
and settled some way off like white butterflies on a field of red 
clover in flower. 

'Then about six o'clock the carriage stopped in a bye-street 
in the Beauvoisine quarter, and a lady got out of it, who walked 
away with her veil down without turning her head.' 

Never was the romance of adultery treated with more 
contempt than in this passage ; the Swiss, the cabman, the 
trades-folk in the streets, all combine to drag us down from 
the sphere of moonlights and troubadours and elective affini- 
ties to the commonplace details of vulgar life. 

To the editors of the Revue de Paris the wanderings of 
this cab and the sorrows of its driver appeared vmsuitable 
for their periodical, and they suppressed the incident; 
Flaubert insisted upon inserting a note to the effect that a 
passage had been withdrawn from publication by the Review^ 
and thereby caused himself to be suspected of having written 
in a very different strain. The supjn-ession of this passage is 
a further indication of the complete blindness of Ducamp 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 183 

and Pichat to the real character of the work wliich they 
were publishing. The incident did not belong to the story 
of Delaunay, and was therefore incomprehensible to Ducamp. 
Madame Bovary was met on her retimi to Yonville by her 
maid Felicite, who brought a message that she was required 
at once at the house of M. Homais. 

' The village was as silent as usual. At the corners of the 
streets there were little crimson heaps steaming, for it was 
the period of jam-making, and everybody in Yonville made his 
preserves on the same day. But all admired a much larger 
heap in front of the chemist's shop, which surpassed all the 
others with the superiority that a manufactory ought to have 
over the kitchen ranges of ordinary folk, the satisfaction of a 
public want over that of mere private needs. 

' She went in. The great arm-chair was overturned, and even 
the Rouen Beacon was lying on the ground trailing between two 
pestles. She opened the passage-door, and in the middle of the 
kitchen, among brown jars full of currants ready stripped, pounded 
sugar, lump sugar, scales on the table, pans on the fire, she saw 
all the Homais, large and small, with aprons which went up to 
their chins, holding spoons in their hands. Justin was standing 
there with his head down, and the chemist was shouting : 

' "Who told you to go and look for it in the capharnaum .^ " 

' " What is it ? What is the matter ? " 

'" What is the matter .^ " replied the apothecary. "We are 
making preserves ; they are boiling ; but they were going to 
boil over, and I ask for another pan. Then he, from his slack- 
ness, his idleness, goes and takes the key of the capharnaum 
out of my laboratory, where it hangs on a nail ! " 

'This was the name that the apothecary gave to a small 
room in the attics full of the utensils and stores of his trade. 
He often spent long hours there alone, labelling, transferring, 
tying up ; and he did not regard it as a simple store-room, but 
as a veritable sanctuary, from whence there afterwards pro- 
ceeded the works of his hands, — all kinds of pills, boluses, 
decoctions, lotions, and potions, wherewithal to spread his 
celebrity in the neighbourhood. Nobody in the world set foot 



184 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

there, and he respected it so much that he swept it out himself. 
In a word, if the shop, open to all comers, was the place where 
he expanded in his pride, the capharnaum was the spot where 
Homais egotistically concentrating himself gloried in the 
practice of his predilections ; so the thoughtlessness of Justin 
appeared to him perfectly monstrous in its irreverence ; and 
redder than his own currants, he repeated : 

' " Yes, of the capharnaum. The key, which encloses the 
acids and the caustic alkalis ! To have been and fetched a 
special pan, a covered pan, and which perhaps I shall never be 
able to use ! Everything has its importance in the delicate 
operations of our art ! But in heaven's name, I say ! distinctions 
must be established ; we must not employ for almost domestic 
purposes that which is destined for pharmaceutical uses ! It is 
as if one were to carve a chicken with a scalpel, as if a magis- 
trate , , ." 

"'Now don't vex yourself!" said Madame Homais. 
* And Athaliah, pulling him by his frock-coat, " Papa ! Papa ! " 
* " No, let me alone ! " went on the apothecary ; " let me 
alone. Death and destruction ! One might just as well be a 
grocer at once, on my word ! There ! go ! Respect nothing ! 
break ! shatter ! Let the leeches loose ! burn the mallows ! 
pickle gurkins in the phials ! rend the bandages !" 
'"You had sent, I think — " said Emma. 

' " Immediately ! Do you know to what you exposed your- 
self.'' . . . Did you see nothing in the corner on the left— on 
the third shelf? Speak — reply — articulate something ! " 
' " I do . . . on't know,'' stammered the young fellow. 
' " Ah, you don't know ! Well, I know, I do. You saw a 
bottle, a blue glass bottle, sealed with a yellow seal, which 
contains a white powder, on which I had myself written : 
* Dangerous ' ! And do you know what there was inside it ? 
Arsenic ! and you go and touch that ! Take a pan, which is 
standing beside it ! " 

' " Beside it ! " screamed Madame Homais, clasping her hands. 
" Arsenic ! You might have poisoned us all ! " 

' And the children began to give vent to shrieks, as if they 
had already felt horrible pains in their entrails. 

'"Yes, or poison a patient!" went on the apothecary. "I 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 185 

presume you wanted me to go and sit on the criminal's bench 
in the assize court ! To see me dragged to the scaffold ! Do 
you not know the care which I take over my operations, in 
spite of the fact that my experience is something wonderful. 
Yes, indeed ! I am often terrified at myself, when I reflect 
upon my own responsibility ! For the government persecutes 
us, and the absurd legislation which controls us is like a 
veritable sword of Damocles hanging over our heads !" 

' Emma no longer thought of asking what was wanted with 
her, and the druggist went on in panting phrases : 

' " That is your return for the kindness that is bestowed on 
you ! That is how you reward the fathei'ly anxiety that I 
lavish on you ! For where would you be ? What would you 
do ? Without me ! Who supplies you with food, education, 
clothes, and all the means of one day figuring with honour in 
the ranks of society ! But to arrive at that, you must sweat 
hard at the oar, and get a tough skin to your hands, as they 
say. Fahricando fitfaber, age quod agis." 

' He quoted Latin, so furious was he. He would have quoted 
Chinese and Esquimaux if he had known those two tongues ; 
for he was at one of those crises in which the whole soul clearlv 
discloses all that it contains, like the ocean which in the storm 
reveals from the seaweed of its shores to the sand of its abysses. 

' And he went on : 

' " I begin to repent very seriously of having burdened my- 
self with your person. In other days I should certainly have 
done better to leave you grovelling in the poverty and the dirt 
in which you were born. You will never be fit for anything 
but a keeper of horned beasts. You have no aptitude for 
science, you scarcely know how to gum a label : and you live 
here in my house like a canon, like a cow in a clover-field, 
stuffing yourself ! " 

' But Emma turning to Madame Homais : " I was told to 
come . . .' 

' " Ah ! mercy on us ! " intenaipted the good woman with a 
melancholy countenance, " how could I tell you ! . . . There is 
a misfortune." 

' She did not finish. The apothecary thundered : " Empty 
it ! Scrub it ! Bring it back ! Be quick about it ! " 



186 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

'And shaking Justin by the collar of his jacket, he caused a 
book to fall out of his pocket. 

' The boy stooped to pick it up. Homais was too quick for 
him, and having seized the volume, he gazed at it, his eyes 
staring, his jaws gaping. 

' " Con — ^ju — gal Love! " said he, separating the two words very 
slowly. " Ah ! good, very good, very pretty ! And plates ! . . . 
Ah, it is too much ! " 

' Madame Homais stepped forward. 

'"No, don't touch it!" 

' The children wanted to see the pictures. 

' " Go out !" said he imperiously. 

' And they went out. 

' First he walked up and down the room with long strides, 
keeping the volume open between his fingers, rolling his eyes, 
gasping, swelling, apoplectic. Then he came straight up to his 
apprentice, and planting himself in front of him with his arms 
crossed : 

' " Then you have all the vices, miserable little creature ! 
Beware — you are on a downward slope ! You did not then 
reflect that this infamous book might fall into the hands of 
my children, put the spark into their brains, stain the purity of 
Athaliah, corrupt Napoleon ! He is already developed like a 
man. Are you quite sure, at least, that they have not read it ? 
Can you assure me ? " 

' " But, sir," said Emma, " sir, you had to tell me . , ." 

' " It is true, madam, your father-in-law is dead ! " 

' In fact, M. Bovary, the father, had died the day before, 
suddenly, of an apoplectic fit on leaving the table : and from an 
excess of care for Emma's sensitiveness, Charles had begged M. 
Homais to impart this horrible news to her with caution. 

' He had thought over his phrase, he had rounded it, polished 
it, balanced it ; it was a masterpiece of ])rudence, and transi- 
tion, of fine turns and delicacy ; but wrath had been too strong 
for rhetoric. 

' Emma, declining any further details, left the shop ; for M. 
Homais had resumed the course of his vituperation. He was 
however cooling down, and at present was muttering in a 
paternal tone, while fanning himself with his cap: 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 187 

* " Not that I altogether disapprove of the work ! The 
author was a medical man. There are in it certain scientific 
aspects which a man is none the worse for knowings and which, 
I would venture to say, a man should know. But later — later. 
Wait at least till you are a man yourself, and your constitution 
is formed." ' 

The death of her father-in-law was not of the nature of 
an overwhelming grief to Emma ; but it had a considerable 
influence upon her futiu-e destiny. Charles inherited some 
real property, and M. Lheureux, who had had pecuniary 
transactions with both sides of the household, skilfully con- 
trived to suggest to Bovary and his wife that Emma should 
have a power of attorney to act in her husband*'s name, he 
being too much occupied to concern himself with business of 
that kind. 

On the pretext of getting further advice on this subject 
Emma went to Rouen, where she spent three days with 
Leon. Presently, by a little adroit manoeuvring, she con- 
trived to spend every Thursday in his society, under the 
pretence of taking music-lessons. She used to leave early in 
the morning before Charles was awake, and travel in the 
Hirondelle, returning by the same conveyance in the even- 
ing. As the omnibus returned up the slope of the Bois 
Guillaume outside Rouen it used to be followed by a loath- 
some mendicant, who would thrust his face into the vehicle, 
a hideous countenance, with awful bleeding eyes ; he would 
sing a country song full of indelicate allusions, and for a 
few pence ' go through his comedy,' squat on the side 
of the road, throw back his head, showing his horrible 
purulent orbits, and utter curious howls as he rapidly 
rubbed his stomach with both hands. Occasionally when 
he was too importunate, the driver would lash him with 
his whip. 



188 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

Leon was at first enraptured with this intrigue, but in due 
time satiety told on him, and Emma, to maintain her hold, 
devised endless new methods of exciting his passion ; even 
provoked his jealousy by allusions to a previous lover, a 
captain of a ship, with whom she had, according to her own 
statement, cultivated a platonic friendship ; and who was 
entirely fictitious. 

Lheureux at the same time skilfully used his knowledge of 
Emma"'s irregularities in order to involve her more and more 
deeply in debt. Becoming every day more impatient of 
restraint, she signed bills, and renewed them with absolute 
recklessness, so that she might always be able to find presents 
for Leon, or to add to the luxury of their meetings. But the 
day of reckoning came, Lheureux, under the mask of a 
friend, a banker at Rouen, into whose hands Emma's bills 
had fallen, pressed for payment, and drove her into further 
entanglements. At last one evening, on returning from the 
town, where she had spent the night at a masked ball with 
Leon, she found a notice served of the sale of her furniture, 
unless her debt was paid within twenty-four hours. 

A desperate interview with Lheureux served to j^rove that 
she had reached the end of her tether. The following 
morning she went off to Rouen to ask for help from Leon ; 
he had no money of his own ; he went out and tried to 
borrow ; he returned : 

' " I have been to three persons . . . without effect ! " 

' Then they remained seated opposite one another at the two 
corners of the fireplace, motionless,' speechless. Emma shrugged 
her shoulders, tapping with her feet. He heard her muttering : 

' " If I were in your place I would find it." 

' " Where, then > " 

' " At your office," and she looked at him. 

' An infernal daring darted from her burning eyes, tlieir lids 
half-closed in a lascivious, provoking fashion, so that the young 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 189 

man felt himself quail under the dumb will of this woman sug- 
gesting a crime. Fear seized him, and to avoid explanations he 
hit his forehead, crying : 

* " Moi-el will be back to-night ! He will not refuse me, I 
hope " — (he was one of his friends, the son of a very rich man 
of business) — '^ and I will bring it you to-morrow," added he. 

' Emma did not appear to welcome this hope with as much 
joy as he had imagined. Did she suspect the lie } He re- 
sumed, reddening : 

' " However, if you were not to see me by three o'clock 
do not wait any longer, my pet. I must go ; excuse me 
— farewell ! " ' 

And thus vanishes M. Leon Dupuis from our story, 
Madame Bovary, driven desperate, visited in turn M. 
Guillaumin the notary, Binet, and, as a last resort, Rodolph 
Boulanger ; then all her romantic dreams ended in putting 
her in the position of a discarded mistress, ineffectually 
dunning the lover who threw her over. Maddened by his 
refusal, she rushed to the chemist's shop ; she had remem- 
bered the blue jar on the shelf in the capharnaum. Fortune 
proved favourable, the Homais family were in their private 
apartments ; Justin, who could refuse her nothing, was alone. 
She demanded the sacred key, rushed up to the attic, seized 
the bottle, and before the eyes of the affrighted youth 
crammed a handful of the white powder into her mouth ; 
then she hurried home, calm in the sensation of an accom- 
plished duty. Before retiring to her room to await the 
effects of the poison she did not forget to write a note and 
solemnly deposit it in her desk. It contained the words, 
' Accuse nobody.' 

From this moment we feel that Flaubert positively hates 
the woman whom he has created : he spares her nothing : 
her whole world crumbles beneath her. The heroines of 
romances take poison, and die pathetically in an atmosphere 



190 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

of religion and sentiment ; not so Emma. To the last she 
is attended by the busybody Homais ; the worthy but 
prosaic Abbe Bournisien ; and when she has received the 
priesfs absolution, and sinks back to await death with 
resignation, the song of the beggar of the Bois Guillaume is 
heard coming down the street. 

The scene of the extreme unction was one of those fastened 
upon by the public prosecutor as an outrage to religion ; it 
is as follows : — 

' The room, when they came in, was full of a solemn sadness. 
The work-table was covered with a white napkin, and on it 
there were five or six little balls of cotton-wool in a silver plate 
beside a great crucifix between two flaming candlesticks. 

' Emma, with her chin on her chest, kept her eyes very wide 
open, and her poor hands trailed upon the coverlet with that 
hideous gentle movement of the dying, who seem to be already 
trying to draw their winding-sheet over them. Pale as a 
statue, his eyes red as coals, Charles stood opposite her at the 
foot of the bed, tearless, while the priest, kneeling on one 
knee, muttered under his breath. 

' She slowly turned her face, and seemed overcome with joy 
at discovering the violet stole, doubtless experiencing in the 
midst of a strange peacefulness the lost delights of her first 
mystical raptures along with the beginnings of a vision of 
eternal happiness. 

' The priest rose to take the crucifix ; then she stretched out 
her neck like a thirsty man, and, pressing her lips on the body 
of the Man-God, she bestowed on it with all her dying strength 
the most fervently loving kiss that she had ever given. Then 
he recited the Miserealiir and rndulgoitifwi, dipped his right 
thumb in the oil and began the unctions ; first on the eyes, 
which had so eagerly coveted all the pomps of the world ; then 
on the nosti'ils, which delicately scented warm breezes, and 
amorous odours ; then on the mouth, which had opened to tell 
lies, which had groaned with pride, and shouted in debauchery ; 
then on the hands, which had delighted in tender touching ; 
and lastly on the soles of the feet, once so nimble, when they 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 191 

ran to the satisfaction of their desires, and which would never 
walk again.' 

These words are all but a literal translation of the Paris 
ritual for extreme unction ; and the outrage on religion con- 
sisted in the artistic skill with which the whole scene is led 
up to and developed. The incongruity between Emma's life 
and the ease with which she was accepted by the Church 
in her last moments is brought into startling relief. The 
implied criticism, not upon the practices of the Roman 
Catholic Church, but upon the readiness of all men to accept 
a deathbed repentance, and to put the , vilest sinner on. a 
level with those who lead irreproachable livesj wounds a 
sentiment which, though unavowed, is,„ very strong in most 
of us. What was resented was not Flaubert's irreverence, 
but his stern severity. 

Even after the death of Madame Bovary her biographer 
pursues her with unrelenting animosity. The Abbe Bour- 
nisien and Homais watch in the chamber of death ; they 
quarrel on religious subjects, become reconciled, eat and 
drink together. The grotesqueness of life still waits upon 
the tragedy. 

And then at last we divine that the romantic part has 
been played, not by the exalted, imaginative, sentimental 
wife, but by the honest, commonplace, believing, loving- 
husband. He finds letters, first the note from Rodolph in 
which he announced his determination to leave Emma, as 
he ' did not wish to make the misfortune of her life ' : 
that seemed innocent ; then the letters of Leon, other 
letters of Rodolph. There could now be no room for 
doubt ; but Bovary did not cease to love the woman 
who had wronged him. One day, at a restaurant, he 
met Rodolph, who invited him to drink. ' I owe you no 
grudge,' said Charles. ' It was destiny.' The next day he 



192 LIFE OF GUST AVE FLAUBERT 

was found dead with a lock of her hair in his hand, in the 
arbour at the bottom of the garden, where she used to meet 
her lover. 

The reader will be glad to learn that Homais succeeded in 
getting himself enrolled in the Legion of Honour, and that 
no medical man was ever able to establish himself per- 
manently in Yonville, so firm was the faith of the country- 
side in the merits of the surreptitious practice of the great 
apothecary. 

Such is a rapid summary of six years of hard work. Page 
after page the story was written and re-written, submitted 
to the criticism of Louis Bouilhet, and then very often 
written over again. The artistic method is perfect. There 
is absolutely no padding ; there are no reflections, no moral- 
isings, very few descriptions of scenery, only such as are 
absolutely necessary to the comprehension of the tale ; the 
book is all nerve and muscle. To Ducamp and others there 
was much that appeared supei-fluous, not required by the 
story ; they did not see that the story is told as an episode 
in French provincial life in the nineteenth century, and that 
the description of Binet with his turning-lathe and fire- 
brigade is as necessary to the picture as the boots of Bovary. 
' A fact is only important in its relation to other facts *" was 
the maxim of Flaubert ; and from that he deduced that the 
environment of the chief personages in his romance was as 
important as the actions of those personages. Throughout 
the book there is further a silent reference to a sentence to 
be passed upon the actors different from the verdict, which 
they would find for themselves. Homais considered himself 
a very worthy representative of the most enlightened age of 
the world's history ; we feel that he is a shallow humbug 
and a charlatan. The Abbe Bournisien was a good-hearted 
fellow, but he wished also to be a wit and a Christian apolo- 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 193 

gist ; in these capacities he is contemptible. The only per- 
son in the book whom we like is the one who makes no 
claims — poor Bovary, who simply loves ; for love, even mis- 
placed love, is the sanctification of life. As for the two 
paramom's, Boulanger and Dupuis, they are both infinitely 
despicable ; the adulterer is likely to be a worthless fellow ; 
and the literature which applauds self-indulgence at the 
expense of another person"'s happiness, with the neglect of 
commonplace domestic duties, is an unwholesome, loathsome, 
lying literature ; persons who act in accordance with its 
precepts are hateful. 

That is the lesson we learn from the book which was 
prosecuted as an outrage on morality. 

Few persons can read Madame Bovary for the first time 
without a strong sense of discomfort, and the pain caused by 
the first impression destroys the critical faculty. For many 
people it is enough to say that a book is painful to condemn 
it at once as a work of fiction ; the province of fiction is 
believed to be to amuse, to please, not to hurt. For the 
sensation of horror caused by a penny dreadful is not an 
unpleasant sensation, and to read of the thrilling adventures 
of others is not disagreeable. But a book which gives you a 
moral jolt, which practically says, ' This and this is the secret 
desire of your heart, on this you pride yourself,"* such a book, 
with its eternal ' These be your gods, O Israel ! ' is an outrage 
upon respectability ; and respectable persons say, ' Such 
books should be forbidden by law.' It is, however, impos- 
sible to legislate upon the province of particular forms of 
literature ; all we can profitably do is to recognise from 
time to time the forms in which the thought of the age is 
finding expression. There can be no manner of doubt that 
what the dramatic form was to the age of Pericles and of 
Elizabeth, the prose romance is to the nineteenth century. 



194 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

The few men who are capable of receiving the impression of 
the age, of understanding, though unconsciously, its compli- 
cated forces, and who have further laid upon them the curse 
of the artist, and are impelled by the necessities of their own 
being to expound to their fellow-men what they have seen 
and heard ; these men now choose the prose romance as the 
artistic form in which their message may best be delivered. 
To say that deep thinkers have no business to use such a 
trivial vehicle is idle. 

The literary artist is great just in proportion as his works 
cause reflection apart from mere emotion. The early narra- 
tives, such as Defoe's Cavalier^ Smolletfs Roderick Random, 
Le Sage''s Gil Bias, endeavom- to amuse us by stringing 
together a number of stories around one person, who is the 
sole connecting link between them all. They are mere collec- 
tions of anecdotes, the raw material of art. Between them 
and such works as Madame Bovary or Romola there is as 
wide an interval as between the dithyrambic songs of the 
Greek rustics and the (Edipus Rex. We have passed from 
the stage of stories strung together, first to the enlarged 
anecdote with its complex plot, such as The Woman in 
White, and have arrived at the carefully constructed prose 
poem, which is philosophy and moral science in a concrete 
form. The possible reactions of a number of human beings 
upon one another, the necessary developments of certain 
tendencies in one human being, are reasoned out and placed 
before us ; and the whole of a romance is as coherent and 
harmonious as a statue or a painting : you cannot remove a 
part without disfiguring the whole or rendering it unintel- 
ligible. Thus the novel, from being the resource of idle 
moments, the dissipation of indolent minds, a thing to be 
preached against, and put away on Sundays, has become the 
chosen instrument of the gravest thinkers of our age, of our 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 195 

most earnest preachers. Those who object to the works of 
George EHot because they are so disagreeable, to Madame 
Bovary because it is so cruel, and declare that such things 
ought not to be written, are simply stoning the prophets in 
order to be rid of them and their home-truths. 



CHAPTER XIII 

THE MAKING OF ' MADAME BOVARY "" THE PROSECUTION 

Louis Bouilhet was at this time residing in Paris, and from 
the correspondence addressed to him we get some idea of the 
sort of pains which Flaubert considered that he ought as a 
conscientious artist to bestow on his work. 

'I have just spent a good week, alone like a hermit, and as 
calm as a god. I abandoned myself to a frenzy of literature ; 
I got up at midday, I went to bed at four in the morning. I 
dined with Dakno (his dog) ; I smoked fifteen pipes in the day ; 
I have written eight pages. 

' I shall contrive that Homais raves about " cheminots " (a 
kind of turban-shaped cake made at Rouen). This will be one 
of the secret motives of his journey to Rouen, and further his 
solitary human weakness. He shall give himself a feast of 
them in a friend's house in the Rue St. Gervais. Don't be 
afraid ! They shall be from the Rue Massacre, and they shall 
be baked in a stove, whose door will be opened with a stick.' 

The ' cheminots '' duly appear in Madame Bovary, and 
Homais takes a bagful of them home to his wife, but the 
projected details were mostly suppressed. Flaubert's sense 
of humour was, as we have seen, apt to run away with him, 
and Louis Bouilhet sternly repressed its extravagances. The 
cap in which Charles Bovary first appeared at school was 
allowed by this severe critic to remain, but a toy, which 
Flaubert had seen somewhere and been amused by as some- 
thing abnormally ugly, was rudely withdrawn from the hands 

196 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 197 

of the children of Homais, in which it had been placed by 
the author. 

' Bovary goes on pianissimo. Be sure and tell me what kind 
of monstrosity to post on the slope of the Bois-Guillaume. 
Ought my man to have an eruption on his face, red eyes, a 
hump, a nose wanting ? Should he be an idiot, or a bandy ? 
I am very much puzzled. Devil take father Hugo with his 
cripples sitting in bowls like snails in the rain ! It is most 
annoying. 

' I am going on very slowly. I give myself an accursed lot of 
trouble. I have just suppressed phrases at the end of five or 
six pages, which have cost me the work of entire days. It is 
impossible for me to see the effect of any one of them before it 
is finished, re-finished, polished. It is an insane way of working, 
but what can I do ? I have a conviction that the things best 
in themselves are those that I cut out. One only succeeds in 
producing an effect by the negation of exuberance ; and exuber- 
ance is precisely what charms me. 

' Do you know that my mother about six weeks ago said 
a splendid thing to me (a thing to make the Muse hang 
herself for jealousy at not having invented it). Here it is : 
'• The mania for phrases has dried up your heart." 

' Try, my good fellow, and send me by next Sunday, or sooner 
if you can, the following morsels of medical information. They 
are going up the slopes, Homais is looking at the blind man 
with the bleeding eyes (you know the mask) and he makes him 
a speech ; he uses scientific words, thinks that he can cure him, 
and gives him his address. It is, of course, necessary that 
Homais should make a mistake, for the poor beast is incurable. 
If you have not enough in your medicine-bag to supply me 
with the material for five or six sturdy lines, draw from Follin 
and send it me. I hope that in a month Mistress Bovary will 
have the arsenic in her stomach. Shall I bring her to you 
buried ? I doubt it.' 

' I. You are an excellent beast to have replied to me so 
quickly. The idea of " following a regular diet " is excellent, 
and I accept it with enthusiasm ; as to an operation, that is 
impossible because of the club-foot, and besides, as it is Homais 



198 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

himself who wishes to undertake the cure, all surgery must be 
excluded. 

'II. I should like some scientific words designating the 
different parts of the damaged eye (or eyelids). The whole is 
damaged, and is a mere squash, in which nothing can be dis- 
tinguished. None the less Horaais employs fine words and 
distinguishes something to dazzle the gallery. 

' III. Lastly, he must speak of some pomade (of his own 
invention .'') good for scrofulous affections, and which he in- 
tends to use upon the mendicant. I make him invite the 
beggar to come to visit him at Yonville in order to have my 
rascal in at Emma's death ! There we are, old fellow. Think 
a little over all this, and send me something for Sunday. 

' I am working moderately, and without gusto, or rather with 
disgust. I am really tired of this work ; it is a regular " impot " 
to me now. 

' We shall probably have much to correct : I have five dia- 
logues in succession, and all say the same thing.' 

' 1st June 1856. 
' Yesterday at last I sent Ducamp the manuscript of Madame 
Bovary, relieved of about thirty pages, without reckoning several 
lines cut out here and there. I have suppressed three great 
morsels of Homais, an entire landscape, the conversations of the 
middle-class folk at the ball, an article by Homais, etc. etc. 
You may see, old fellow, that I have been heroic. Has the 
book gained by it .'' It is at any rate certain that the whole 
has now more movement.' 

In spite of the removal of so much, the editors of the 
Revue de Paris were not satisfied ; they found the Bovary 
still too exuberant, and sent back the manuscript yet further 
reduced. Flaubert kept tlie copy thus mutilated, and it 
was found among his papers after his death. To some 
extent he proved amenable to their criticism, as his reply 
to Laurence Pichat, Ducamp's co-editor, indicates : — 

' Dear Friend, — I have just received the Bovary, and first of 
all I feel the necessity of thanking you for it (if I am coarse, I 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 199 

am not ungrateful) ; you have rendered me a service in accept- 
ing the book, such as it is, and I will not forget it. 

' Admit that you thought me, and that you still think me 
(more than ever perhaps), violently ridiculous ! Some day I 
shall be delighted to admit that you were right ; I promise 
you that then I will make you the humblest apologies. But 
you must understand, dear friend, that before all things I 
wanted to try an experiment, provided the apprenticeship were 
not too rough, 

' Do you really believe that this mean reality, whose repro- 
duction disgusts you, does not make my gorge rise as much as 
yours .'' If you knew me better, you would know that I hold 
the everyday life in detestation. Personally I have always kept 
myself as far away from it as I could. But aesthetically I wanted 
this time, and only this time, to exhaust it thoroughly. So I 
took the thing in an heroic fashion, I mean a minute one, 
accepting everything, saying everything, depicting everything 
— an ambitious statement ! 

' I explain myself badly, but sufficiently well for you to under- 
stand the real meaning of my opposition to your criticism, judi- 
cious as it was. You were by way of writing me a different book. 

' You were hitting at the innermost poetry from which the 
type upon which it was conceived followed (as a philosopher 
would say). Lastly, I believed myself to be wanting in what I 
owed to myself and to you if I performed an act not of convic- 
tion but of deference. 

' Art claims for herself neither complaisance nor politeness, 
nothing but faith — faith always, and liberty. And on that 
point I cordially shake hands with you. Under the barren tree 
with the ever-gi*een leaves, entirely yours.' 

The spirit in which Flaubert met the action which the 
Government brought against the author of Madame Bovary 
is well illustrated by the following letter to Madame Maiu-ice 
Schlesinger (an old friend of the Trouville days), written on 
January the 14th, 1857, when the prosecution was still only 
pending : — 

' How I have been touched, dear lady, by your kind letter ! 



200 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

The questions you ask me about the author and the book have 
come straight to the right address, don't doubt that. Here then 
is the whole story. The Revue de Paris, in which I pubHshed 
my novel, had already been twice warned, as being a pei'iodical 
hostile to the Government. Then it was thought very clever 
to suppress it at one blow, as guilty of immorality and irreligion ; 
in the end passages were picked out at random from my book, 
both licentious and impious ; I had to appear before a magis- 
trate, and the action has begun. But I have made a vigorous 
stir among my friends, who have bustled about a bit for me 
among the guardian angels of the capital. In short, I am 
assured that all is stopped, though I have as yet no official 
answer. I do not doubt of my success ; the whole thing was 
really too stupid. I intend, therefore, to publish my novel in a 
volume. You will receive it in about six weeks, I think, and I 
will mark for your amusement the incriminated passages. One 
of them, a description of extreme unction, is only a page of 
the Paris ritual put into French — but the good folk who 
watch over the maintenance of religion are not strong in 
catechism. 

' However that may be, I should have been condemned — yes, 
condemned — to one year's imprisonment, without counting a 
fine of a thousand francs. Further, each fresh volume from 
your friend would have been cruelly watched, and cleansed by 
our respected police, and a fresh offence would have taken me 
again " to the damp straw of the dungeons " for five years : in 
a word, it would have been impossible for me to print a line. 
So, then, I have learned (1) that it is very disagreeable to be 
mixed up in a political question ; (2) that social hypocrisy is a 
serious matter. But this time it has been so stupid that it has 
been ashamed of itself, given up its prey, and withdrawn into 
its den. 

'As to the book itself, which is moral, super-moral, and to 
which the Monthyon prize would be given — an honour which I 
do not covet — if its ways of proceeding were less free, it has 
obtained all the success that a novel published in a periodical 
can obtain.' 

Flaubert was mistaken. The Government did not abandon 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 201 

the prosecution, and on the 23rd of January he writes to his 
old friend Jules Cloquet : — 

' I beg to inform you that to-morrow, the twenty-fourth of 
January, I honour the criminals' bench with my presence, sixth 
chamber of the Executive police, at ten o'clock in the morning. 
Ladies are admitted ; costume must be decent and in good style. 

' I do not count on any justice at all. I shall be condemned, 
and have to pay the highest possible fine perhaps ; a pleasant 
reward for my toils ; noble encouragement given to literature. 
. . . But one thing consoles me for these stupidities : it is that 
I have found so much sympathy with myself and my book. I 
count yours in the first rank, my dear friend. The approval of 
certain minds is more flattering than the prosecutions of the 
police are dishonouring. Now, I defy the whole French magis- 
tracy, with its policemen, and the whole Committee of Public 
Safety, including its spies, to write a novel which will please 
you as much as mine. These are the proud thoughts which I 
propose to cherish in my dungeon.' 

The result of the action has been already mentioned. 
Though the Government saw in Madame Bovary a danger 
to morality, others were of a different opinion ; while the 
case was still undecided, Flaubert received a letter from a 
lady unknown to him, strongly praising and thanking him 
for his work. This letter was the first of a correspondence 
which continued more or less intermittently for fifteen years. 
It will be more convenient and instructive to deal with it 
separately. 



CHAPTER XIV 

' SALAMMBo/ 

The scandal attaching to Madame Bovary^ and its subse- 
quent success, caused its author to become one of the lions 
of Paris. From this time the circle of his acquaintance was 
largely increased, and we meet with the names of well-known 
men and women in his correspondence. He did not, how- 
ever, give himself up to the pleasures of popularity ; no 
sooner was the Bovary off his hands than he began the 
heavy course of reading necessary, according to his ideas, to 
the production of Salammbo. 

Maxime Ducamp is of opinion that the work by which 
Flaubert stands or falls is Salammbo^ that in that he is more 
himself than in any other of his books. In other words, if 
Salammbo is a great work, Flaubert is a great writer, and 
vice versa. 

Salammbo was published at the end of 1862, and repre- 
sents six years'* work. The strength and defects of this work 
can most easily be gathered from Flaubert's reply to a criti- 
cism written by M. Frcehner, editor of the Revue Contevi- 
poraine. To understand this, however, a slight preliminary 
outline of the story is necessary. 

Salammbo is a narrative of the war waged on Carthage by 
her Mercenaries after the first Punic War. The struggle 
lasted a little over two years, and was brought to an end by 
Hamilcar Barca, the father of the great Hannibal, who 
enticed the Mercenaries into a defile and exterminated them. 

202 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 203 

In the war itself there were no striking episodes, and of the 
personalities of the chief actors very little is known. The 
moving spirits ni the attack upon Carthage were Spendius, 
a quick-witted Greek, who had been a slave, and Matho, a 
Libyan soldier. Inside Carthage the work of defence was 
hampered at the outset by jealousies between the party of 
Barca, favoured by the populace, and the oligarchy of 
Carthage. Flaubert does his best to reconstruct ancient 
Carthage, materially and morally, to show us the picture of 
a people entirely given up to the acquisition of wealth, un- 
heroic, devoid of chivalry, but capable of obstinate and 
ferocious resistance to an enemy when in extremity. He 
depicts them insensible to human suffering, hating and de- 
spising with Hebrew exclusiveness all alien races. The 
Mercenaries, on the other hand, are elaborately portrayed 
with the reckless habits of soldiers of fortune, pugnacious and 
careless of life rather than cruel ; brave but undisciplined. 

To connect the movement inside the town and outside 
Flaubert invented Salammbo, the daughter of Hamilcar, with 
whom Matho, the leader of the Mercenaries, is in love, 
having seen her on the occasion of a feast given to the 
soldiers in Hamilcar's garden. It is the furious, insane, con- 
suming passion for Salammbo which keeps Matho ranging 
around the walls of Carthage. 

Salammbo had been brought up by Schahabarim, the 
high priest of Tanit, the Phoenician Venus, She had no 
knowledge of the vulgar and impure forms of worship con- 
nected with this deity ; her time was spent in prayer and 
fasting, in vigils, in ceremonial observances ; none of these 
availed to still the strange disquiet of her heart ; she yearned 
for an initiation into further mysteries, whose nature she 
could not divine. 

Within the inmost cell of the labyrinthine temple of 



204 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

Tanit was suspended the zaimph, the sacred veil of the god- 
dess. On the possession of this veil hung the destinies of 
Carthage ; so long as it remained draped over a formless 
stone, the most holy embodiment of the Rabbetna, the god- 
dess watched over Carthage ; were it once lost, she would 
follow the fortunes of the man or people into whose posses- 
sion it passed. Salammbo had never seen the zaimph, in- 
deed the sight of the mystic web was believed to bring death 
upon those who beheld it with eyes unpurified, but it and 
its potency largely filled her imagination. She often im- 
plored Schahabarim to allow her to make herself fit to 
behold it by the necessary prayers and ceremonies. He 
evaded the subject, or rebuked her presumptuous curiosity. 

Spendius, who had been a slave in the palace of Hamilcar, 
was well aware of the existence of the zaimph, and of the 
superstition connected with it. As soon as the Mercenaries 
declared war upon Carthage, he formed the idea of stealing 
it. From the beginning he had attached himself to Matho, 
knew of his love-sickness, had divined in him the right man 
to lead the Mercenary forces, and aware of his passionate 
longing to enter Carthage again, determined to make use of 
him in the enterprise of carrying off the zaimph. 

By means of the great aqueduct Spendius and Matho 
entered Carthage in the night : they penetrated the inner- 
most recesses of the temple of Tanit, lifted the ziiimph from 
its hooks. Matho wrapped it over his head and shoulders, 
and then refused to leave Carthage till he had seen Salammbo, 
Guided by Spendius, he made his way to the sleeping-chamber 
of Hamilcar 's daughter ; she awoke to see a glorious man, 
robed in the holy garment of the goddess, standing before 
her. At first dazzled, she soon recovered herself sufficiently 
to curse the enemy of her race, the spoiler of its divinity, 
and then alarmed her household. Spendius escaped un- 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 205 

noticed. Matho walked out through the waking town amid 
the howls of the inhabitants, protected by the sanctity of the 
stolen veil. 

Flaubert then relates in elaborate detail the history of the 
Mercenary war. His inveterate satirical humour reveals itself 
in his description of the warlike preparations made by 
Hanno, the incompetent colleague, but rival, of Hamilcar ; 
while the drill and military discipline of the citizens of 
Carthage recall the Garde Nationale. The Mercenaries, 
owing to a clever device of Spendius, defeated Hanno and 
his elephants. Despair seized the rulers of Carthage. At 
this moment Hamilcar, long absent on his duties as sufFete 
of the sea, returned. The Mercenary forces had always been 
closely associated with him ; he had commanded them in 
various wars ; he was suspected of wishing to make himself 
absolute monarch of Carthage by their aid. For this reason 
Hanno and the oligarchical party, while the Mercenaries were 
still in the city, had sent them to feast in the gardens of 
Hamilcar's palace ; they counted upon the mischief which 
these rough guests would work to produce a breach between 
them and their general. Nor were they disappointed. 
Hamilcar returned to find his trees burned, his slaves freed 
or mutilated, his family elephants slain or hideously dis- 
figured ; worse than all, to hear a horrible insinuation of 
Matho''s nocturnal visit to Salammbo. The revengeful man 
— the same man who afterwards caused his six-year-old son 
to swear to punish the Romans — became possessed with the 
fierce longing to destroy those who had thus outraged his 
home, wounded his family pride. He prosecuted the war 
with vigour, but not at first with striking success. Carthage 
felt the loss of the zilimph ; execrated Salammbo. Schaha- 
barim persuaded her that it was her duty to recover the holy 
veil. As soon as she formed this resolution her family serpent, 



206 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

which had hitherto been ailing, began to recover health. 
Clearly the gods of her family and country smiled on her 
enterprise. 

The forces of Carthage and the Mercenaries were at this 
time encamped close to one another in the mountains neai* 
Hippo Zaryta. Conveyed by a slave provided by Schaha- 
barim, Salammbo having first ceremonially enlaced herself 
in the folds of the family serpent, made her way to the tent 
of Matho ; she demanded the sacred veil. In the course of 
the night a fire broke out in the camp, and in the confusion 
that followed Salammbo made her way out of the tent of 
the Mercenary chieftain with the ziiimph, and arrived at her 
father''s headquarters, in the sight of the whole army, just as 
the sun rose. That day the Carthaginians achieved a com- 
plete victory ; and Salammbo was betrothed to a Numidian 
chieftain Narrhavas, whose desertion from the Mercenaries 
had occurred at this opportune moment. 

The victory of Hamilcar was not, however, complete. 
The Mercenaries were still strong enough to lay siege to 
Carthage — to cut the aqueduct. 

Flaubert describes the sufferings of the besieged city in 
detail, the climax being an awful scene, in which the de- 
spairing citizens offer their children to Moloch. This 
hideous sacrifice was followed by rain. 

Soon after Hamilcar appeared before the city walls, and 
by the semblance of flight contrived to draw away the army 
of the Mercenaries several days'* march into the defile of the 
Hatchet, where he had prepared a trap for them. They 
were surrounded, and most of them slain. Among the few 
prisoners reserved from the massacre to grace the triumph of 
Hamilcar in Carthage was Matho. That the wrath of the 
people might be satisfied, and each have a share in the 
vengeance, he was condemned to run the gauntlet through 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 207 

the streets, and his bleeding form, scarcely recognisable as 
human, threw the last living glance of its dying eyes up to 
the tribunal in front of the temple of Khamon, where 
Salammbo was enthroned alongside of Narrhavas. A few 
moments afterwards Salammbo herself fell dead in the arms 
of her betrothed. 

' Thus perished Hamilcar^s daughter for having touched 
the veil of Tanit/ 

Flaubert's own estimate of the defects of his own book is 
as follows (he is replying to a criticism of Sainte-Beuve) : — 

' 1. The pedestal is too large for the statue. Now, as one 
never sins by excess, but always by defect, there should have 
been a hundred pages more given to Salammbo alone. 

' 2. Some transitions are wanting. They existed ; I cut them 
out, or over-shortened them, in the dread of being wearisome. 

' 3. In Chapter vi. all that refers to Gisco is of the same 
strain as the second part of Chapter ii. (Hanno). It is the same 
situation, and there is no advance in the effect. 

' 4. All that reaches from the battle of the Macar to the 
sei-pent, and all Chapter xiii. to the numbering of the Mercen- 
aries, sinks — disappears in the memory. These are passages 
on the background, dry, transitional, that I, unfortunately, 
could not avoid, and which render the book heavy in spite of 
the efforts of agility that I was able to make. These are the 
passages which have cost me most, which I love the least, and 
for which I am the most grateful to myself. 

' 5. The aqueduct. Confession — My secret opinion is that 
there was no aqueduct at Carthage, in spite of the existing ruins 
of the aqueduct. So I have taken care to anticipate all objec- 
tions by a hypocritical phrase for the benefit of the antiquaries. 
I put my feet in the trough clumsily by mentioning that it was 
a Roman invention, new at that time, and that the present 
aqueduct was reconstructed upon the old one. The recollec- 
tion of Belisarius cutting the Roman aqueduct of Carthage 
haunted me, and then it was such a splendid way[of introducing 
Spendius and Matho ! Never mind, my aqueduct is a weak 
spot ! Coiifiteor. 



208 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

* 6. Another, and last bit of cheating — Hanno. Through love 
of clearness I have falsified history in the matter of his death. 
He certainly was, it is true, crucified by the Mercenaries, but 
in Sardinia. The general crucified at Tunis opposite Spendius 
was called Hannibal, But what confusion that would have 
caused to the reader ! 

' Such is, dear master, the worst there is in my book, accord- 
ing to my own opinion. I do not tell you what good I find in 
it. But be assured that I have not made an imaginary Carthage. 
Documentary statements about Carthage exist, and they are 
not all in Movers. It is necessary to go and look for them a 
little farther off. Thus Ammianus Marcellinus has supplied 
me with the exact shape of a gate ; the poem of Corippus (the 
Johamiid) with many details on the African populations, etc. etc' 

Flaubert"'s admissions as to his own failures are interesting, 
but they do not hit the point. Salammbo is neither romance 
nor history ; it is too minute for the former, and not diffuse 
enough for the latter. It is none the less such a work as 
only a giant could achieve, and it is a gigantic failure. 

The most convincing proof of the justice of the above 
verdict is afforded by Flaubert's defence of his work against 
the criticisms of M. Froehner, which at the same time reveals 
his strength. We can understand the enormous respect felt 
by his contemporaries for a controversialist of such sound 
and extensive erudition, who could hit out so neatly and 
with such force ; we further learn by this striking illustra- 
tion what he meant by conscience in art, and how inartistic 
might be his methods : — 

'Sir, — I have just read your article on Salairimho which 
appeared in the Revue Contemporaine of the 31st of December 
1862. In spite of the habit I have formed of never replying to 
any criticism, I cannot accept yours. It is full of propriety, and 
of things extremely flattering to me ; but as it throws a doubt 
upon the honesty of my researches, you will allow me, if you 
please, here to take exception to several of your assertions. 

' I will first ask you, sir, why you so persistently associate 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 209 

me with the Campana Collection^ affirming that it has been my 
permanent resource and inspiration. Now, I had finished 
Salarnmbo in the month of March, six weeks before the open- 
ing of that Museum. There is a mistake to begin with. We 
shall find some more serious. 

' I make^ sir, no pretence to archaeology. I have published 
my book as a romance, without preface, without notes, and I am 
surprised that a man like you, famous by works of such import- 
tance, should waste his leisure on such light literature ! I do 
however know enough about it, sir, to venture to say, that you 
are completely wrong from one end to the other of your work, 
the whole length of your eighteen pages, in each paragraph, 
and in every line. 

' You find fault with me " for not having consulted Falbe or 
Dureau de la Malle, by whom I might have profited." A 
thousand pardons ! I have read them, more often than you 
perhaps, and on the very ruins of Carthage. That you should 
know " nothing satisfactory about the form of the place or its 
principal quarters " is very possible ; but others, better informed, 
do not share your scepticism. If we do not know where the 
suburb Adas was, the place called Fuscianus, the exact position 
of the principal gates of which we have the names, etc., we do 
know well enough the aspect of the town, the architectural 
character of its walls, the Taenia, the Mole, and the Cothon. 
We know that the houses were plastered with bitumen, and the 
streets paved ; we have an idea of the Anco described in my 
fifteenth chapter ; we have heard tell of Malqua, of Byrsa, of 
Megara, of the Mappalia, and the Catacombs, and of the temple 
of Eschmoun, placed on the Acropolis, and that of Tanit, a 
little to the right, when standing with one's back to the sea. 
All that is to be found (not to speak of Pliny, of Appian, and 
Procopius) in that same Dureau de la Malle, whom you accuse 
me of not knowing. It is then to be regretted, sir, that you 
did not " enter into tiresome details to show " that I had no 
idea of the position and arrangement of ancient Carthage, 
" still less than Dureau de la Malle," you add. But what must 
one believe .'' to whom trust one's self, since you have not up 
to the present been so obliging as to reveal your own system of 
Carthaginian topography ? 



210 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

' I do not possess, it is true, any text to prove to you that 
there existed a street of the Tanners, of the Perfumers, of the 
Dyers. It is in any case a probable hypothesis, you must admit. 
But I did not invent Kinisdo and Cynasyn, words, say you, 
whose structure is foreign to the spirit of the Semitic languages. 
Not so foreign, however, since they are all in Gesenius — almost 
all my Punic names, disfigured according to you, being taken 
from Gesenius {Scrtptura; linguceque Phcenicice, etc.) or from 
Falbe, whom I have consulted, I assure you. 

' An Orientalist of your erudition, sir, should have had a little 
more indulgence for the Numidian name Naravasse, which I 
write Nar'Havas, from Nar-el-haouah, "fire of breath." You 
might have divined, that the two m's of Salammbo were put 
expressly to cause it to be pronounced Sala???, and not Sala??, 
and you might have charitably imagined that £gates instead of 
^Egates was a printer's error, corrected for the matter of that in 
the second edition of my book, anterior by a fortnight to your 
admonitions. It is the same with " Scissites" for " Syssites" and 
the word Kabiri (which had been printed without a K — horrors ! 
even in the most serious works, such as the ReligioJis of Ancient 
Greece by Maury). As for Schalischim, if I have not written 
(as I ought to have done) Rosch-eisch-Schalischim, it was to 
shorten an already over-repellent name, further, not imagining 
that I should be examined by a philologist ... (a criticism on 
two French words used by Frcehner). 

' Still one thing, however ! Why have you underlined the and 
in this phrase, somewhat mutilated, of ray 156th page : "Buy me 
Cappadocians and Asiatics." Is it to shine by trying to make 
the dunces believe that I do not distinguish between Cappa- 
docia and Asia Minor .'' But I know it, sir, I have seen it, I 
have taken walks in it ! 

' You have read me so carelessly that you nearly always quote 
me wrong. I have nowhere said that the priests formed a 
separate caste ; nor, page 109, that the Libyan soldiers were 
possessed with the desire to drink iron, " but that the Mercen- 
aries threatened the Carthaginians with making them drink 
iron" ; nor, page 108, that the guards of the legion "wore in 
the middle of their foreheads a silver horn to make them re- 
semble rhinoceroses," but "their big horses had," etc.; nor, page 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 211 

29, that the peasants one day amused themselves with crucify- 
ing two hundred lions. The same remark applies to those un- 
fortunate Syssities, a term which I have used according to you, 
" doubtless not knowing that this word signified private cor- 
porations." " Doubtless " is kind. But doubtless I knew what 
these corporations were, and the etymology of the word, since 
I translated it into French the first time it appears in my 
book, page 7 : Syssities, companies (of merchants) who used 
to eat together. You have in the same way misquoted a 
passage of Plautus, for it is not demonstrated in the Pcenubis 
that " the Carthaginians knew all languages," which would 
have been a strange privilege to be enjoyed by a whole nation ; 
there is simply in the prologue, i. 112, "Is omnes linguas 
scit," which must be translated : " He knows all languages " — 
the Carthaginian in question, and not all the Carthaginians. 

' It is not true to say that " Hanno was not crucified in the 
Mercenary war, seeing that he commanded armies long after- 
wards," for you will find, sir, in Polybius, that the rebels seized 
his person, and fastened him to a cross (in Sardinia, it is true, 
but at the same period). Book i. chap. xvii. It is not then for 
this personage to complain of M. Flaubert, but rather Polybius 
who would have to complain of M. Froehner. 

' As for the sacrifices of children, it is so far from impossible 
that they were burned alive in the siege of Hamilcar, that they 
were still burned in the time of Julius Caesar and of Tiberius, 
if one may trust Cicero (pro Balba) and Strabo (Book in). How- 
ever, "The statue of Moloch does not resemble the infernal 
machine described in Salammbo. This figure, composed of 
seven compartments placed one on the top of the other, to hold 
the victims, belongs to the religion of Gaul. M. Flaubert 
has no pretext in analogy to justify his audacious transference." 

' No — I have no pretext, that is true ! But I have a text, to 
wit the text, the very description, of Diodorus to which you 
refer, and which is no other than mine, as you will be able to 
convince yourself by condescending to read, or read again Book 
IV. chap. 20 of Diodorus, to which you will add the Chaldaic 
paraphrase of Paul Fage, of which you do not speak, and which 
is quoted by Selten, Be diis Syriis pp. 164-170, with Eusebius 
Introductio7i to the Gospels, Book i. 



212 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

' How does it come to pass, too, that history says nothing of 
the miraculous veil, since you yourself say " that it used to be 
shown in the temple of Venice, but much later, and first at the 
period of the Roman Emperors " ! Now I find in Athenaeus xii. 
58 the very detailed description of this veil, although history 
says nothing about it. It was bought from Dionysius the Elder 
for a hundred and twenty talents, taken to Rome by Scipio 
Emilianus, carried back to Carthage by Caius Gracchus, returned 
to Rome under Heliogabalus, then was sold to Carthage. All 
that moreover is to be found in Dureau de la Malle, by whom I 
have profited, certainly. 

' Three lines lower down you affirm with the same . . . can- 
dour that " most of the other gods invoked in Salammbo are 
pure inventions," and you add : "Who has ever heard speak of 
an Aptouchus .''" Who ? L'Avez-ac (Cyrenaica) in connection 
with a temple in the neighbourhood of Cyrene ; "^of a Schaoul .''" 
but it is a name, which I give to a slave (see my ninety-first 
page) ; " or of a Matismann .'' " He is mentioned as a god by 
Corippus. (See Johcmneid and Mem. de I' Academie des Inscripi., 
tome xii. p. 181.) "Who does not know that Micipsa was 
not a divinity but a man.''" Now that is just what I say, 
sir, and very clearly, in that same ninety-first page, when 
Salammbo calls her slaves : " Here, Kroum, Euva, Micipsa, 
Schaoul." 

' You accuse me of taking Ashtaroth and Astarte for two 
distinct divinities. But at the beginning, page 48, when Sal- 
ammbo invokes Tanit, she invokes her by all her names at once : 
'• Anaitis, Astarte, Derceto, Ashtaroth, Tiratha. " And I have 
even taken care to say a little further on, page 52, that she 
repeated "all these names without their having any distinct 
signification for her." Can you be like Salammbo ! I am 
tempted to believe it, since you make Tanit the goddess of war, 
and not of love, of the female element, moist, fertile, in spite of 
TertuUian, and of this very name Tiratha, the explanation of 
which, somewhat indecent, but plain enough, you will find in 
Movers, Phenic, Book i. p. 574. 

' You are also astounded at the apes consecrated to the moon, 
and the horses consecrated to the sun. " These details," you 
are sure, "are not found in any ancient author, nor in any 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 213 

authentic record," Now as for the apes I will permit myself, 
sir, to remind you that in Egypt baboons were consecrated to 
the moon, as they are still to be seen upon the walls of the 
temples, and that the Egyptian cults had penetrated into 
Libya and into the oases. As for the horses I do not say that 
there were any consecrated to ^sculapius, but to Eschmoun, 
assimilated with iEsculapius, lolaiis, Apollo, the Sun. Now I 
see the horses consecrated to the Sun in Pausanias (Bk. i. 
cap. i.) and in the Bible (2 Kings xxxii.). But perhaps you 
will deny that the temples of Egypt are authentic remains, and 
the Bible and Pausanias ancient authors. 

■^In connection with the Bible, sir, I will further take the 
great liberty of calling your attention to the second volume of 
Cahen's translation, p. 1S6, where you will read this: "they 
wore on their necks, hanging by a gold chain, a little figure in 
precious stones, which they used to call Truth. The debates 
opened, when the president placed the image of Truth in front 
of him." This is a quotation from Diodorus. Here is another 
from iElian : " The eldest among them was their chief and 
their judge; he used to wear round his neck an image in 
sapphire. This image was called Truth." It is in this way, sir, 
that " that Truth is a pretty invention of the author's." 

' But everything astonishes you : the molobathrum, which is 
equally well written (with all respect to you) malobathrum or 
malabathrum, the gold dust, which is collected to-day, as 
formerly, on the shore of Carthage, the ears of the elephants 
painted blue, the men who daub themselves with vermilion and 
eat vermin and apes, the Lydians in women's dresses, the lynx 
carbuncles, the mandrakes, which are in Hippocrates, the 
chainlet on the ankles, which is in the Song of Songs (Cahen, 
t. xvi. 37), and the irrigation with silphium, the beards in 
bags, the crucified lions, etc. . . . everything ! 

' Well — sir. No. I did not " borrow all these details from the 
negroes of Senegambia." I refer you for the elephants to 
Armandi's work, p. 256", and to the authorities that he indicates, 
such as Florus, Diodorus, Ammianus Marcellinus, and other 
negroes from Senegambia. 

' As for the nomads who eat apes, chew lice, and daub them- 
selves with vermilion, as you might be asked "from what 



214 LIFE OF GUST AVE FLAUBERT 

source the author has derived this precious information," and 
as "you would be," according to your own admission, "very 
much embarrassed to say," I will give you, with all humility, 
some indications, which may facilitate your researches, 

' " The Mascii . . . paint their bodies with vermilion. The 
Gysarites paint themselves all over with vermilion, and eat 
apes. Their wives (those of the Adrymachydes), if they are 
bitten by a louse, take it, and bite it, etc." You will see all 
that in the fourth book of Herodotus, in chapters 194, 191, and 
l68. I have no difficulty in telling you. 

' The same Herodotus informed me, in the description of the 
army of Xerxes, that the Lydians had women's dresses ; further, 
Athenaeus, in his chapter on the Etruscans, and their resem- 
blance to the Lydians, says that they wore the dresses of 
women ; lastly, the Lydian Bacchus is always represented in a 
female costume. Is this sufficient about the Lydians and their 
garments ? 

The beards covered in bags in sign of mourning are in Cahen 
(Ezekiel xxiv. 17) and on the chins of Egyptian colossi, those 
of Aboo-Simbal among othei's ; the carbuncles formed by the 
urine of the lynx, in Theophrastus, book on Gems, and in Pliny 
Bk. VIII. chap. Iviiii. And as for what concerns the crucified 
lions (whose number you bring up to two hundred, in order, 
doubtless, to make me a present of an absurdity, which is not 
mine), I beg you to read in the same book of Pliny the 
eighteenth chapter, where you will learn that Scipio J^milianus 
and Polybius, walking together in the country near Carthage, 
saw some of them tortured in this fashion : " Quia caeteri metu 
pcEnae similis absterrentur eadem noxia." Are these, sir, the 
passages taken indiscriminately from the Univers piltorcsque, 
and "which the higher criticism has successfully used against 
me " ? Of what high criticism do you speak ? Of your own ? 

'You divert yourself prodigiously with the pomegranates 
watered with silphium. But this detail, sir, is not mine. It is 
in Pliny, Bk. xxii. chap, xlvii. I am much concerned for 
your joke about " the hellebore which ought to be cultivated 
at Charenton " ; but as you say yourself, " The most penetrating 
mind cannot supply the want of sound knowledge." 

'You have gone completely wrong in affii-ming that "among 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 215 

the precious stones of Hamilcar's treasure more than one be- 
longs to the Christian legends and superstitions." No ! sir. 
They are all from Pliny and Theophrastus. 

' The emerald pillars at the entrance of the temple, which 
make you laugh, for you are gay, are mentioned by Philostratus 
(Aj)ollojiii Vita) and by Theophrastus (Treatise on Gems). 
Heeren (v. 11) quotes his phrase: "The greatest Bactrian 
emerald is at Tyre in the temple of Hercules. It is a column 
of some size." Another passage of Theophrastus (Hill's trans- 
lation) : " There was in the temple of Jupiter an obelisk 
composed of four emeralds." 

'In spite of your "sound information,'' you confuse jade, 
which is a nephrite of a green brown colour, and which comes 
from China, with jasper, a variety of quartz which is found in 
Europe and Sicily. 

' If you had chanced to have opened the Dictionary of the 
French Academy at the word jasper, you would have learned, 
without going any further, that there were black, red, and 
white varieties. You should then, sir, have controlled the 
transports of your indomitable spirit, and not have lightly 
reproached my master and friend Theophile Gauthier, with 
having lent a woman (in his Romance of a Mummy) green feet, 
when he gave her white feet. So it is not he, but you, that 
have made "a ridiculous error." If you had a little less con- 
tempt for travelling, you might have seen in the Museum of 
Turin the very arm of this mummy, brought back from Egypt 
by M. Passalacqua, and in the position, which Theophile 
Gauthier describes, that position, which, according to you, is 
certainly not Egyptian. Without being an engineer either, you 
might have learned what the sakieh are to supply the houses 
with water, and you would have been convinced that I have not 
made an unjustifiable use of black garments in putting them in 
countries, where they swarm, and where the women of the 
upper classes never go out except in black veils. But as you 
prefer written evidence, I recommend to your notice, for all that 
concerns the clothing of the women, Isaiah iii. 3, the Mischna 
under Sabbatho, Samuel xiii. 1 8, Clement of Alexandria, part 
ii. 13, and the dissertations of Abbe Mignot in the Memoires 
de I' Academie des Inscriptions, xlvi. And as for that super- 



216 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

abundance of ornamentation, which astounds you so much, I 
had every right to lavish it upon peoples who encrusted 
precious stones in the floors of their rooms (Cahen, Ezekiel xxviii. 
1 4). But you are not happy in the matter of precious stones. 

' I conclude, sir, with thanking you for the well-bred forms 
which you have employed, a rare thing nowadays. Among 
your inaccuracies I have only noticed the grossest, those which 
touched on special points. As for the vague criticisms, the 
personal applications, and the literary review of my book, I 
have not even alluded to them. I have restricted myself the 
whole time to your own field, that of science ; and I repeat to 
you once again, that I am but moderately sound in that. I 
neither know Hebrew, nor Arabic, nor German, nor Greek, nor 
Latin, and I do not pride myself on my knowledge of French. 
I have often used translations, but sometimes also the originals. 
I have consulted in my times of doubt the men who pass for 
being the most competent in France, and if I " have not been 
better guided," the reason is that I had not the honour, the 
advantage of knowing you. Excuse me ! if I had taken advice 
from you should I have "succeeded better".'' I doubt it. In 
any case, I should have lost some signs of goodwill which you 
bestow on me here and there in your article, and I should have 
spared you the kind of remorse with which it concludes. But 
comfort yourself, sir ! although you seem terrified at your own 
force, and you think seriously " you have cut up my book bit by 
bit," do not be afraid, calm yourself ! For you have not been 
cruel, but . . . trivial. — I have the honour to be, etc., 

' GusTAVE Flaubert.' 

A romance that needs to be defended in this style is at 
once condemned as a romance. It may be a very learned 
work, and a conscientious work, but it cannot be one of those 
works of deep human interest which arrest the attention 
even of the unlearned. As the ♦S'^. Anthony is spoiled by 
the processions of strange monsters, and little known divini- 
ties, so Salammho fails to be effective by the very prodigality 
of the accurate details which are lavished upon the picture ; 
and these details are mostly concerned with the material 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 217 

surroundings of the characters. Some of the descriptions 
are not overloaded for the effect intended, such, for instance, 
as the description of Hamilcar"'s palace and treasures, of the 
temples of Tanit and Moloch, of the defeat of Hanno ; but 
we soon weary of such Avriting as this : — 

'The Carthaginians were still in the first panic of their arrival, 
when they perceived, coming straight towards them like mon- 
sters, and like buildings, with their masts, their arms, their 
coi-ds, their articulations, their capitals, and their carapaces, the 
siege machines, which were sent by the Tyrian towns, sixty 
carrobalistse, eighty onagri, thirty scorpions, fifty tolenones, 
twelve battering-i-ams, and three gigantic catapults, which 
hurled pieces of rock weighing fifteen talents. Masses of men 
pushed them on, hooked on to their bases ; at each step a 
shudder shook them ; thus they came up to the front of the 
walls.' 

From the antiquarian point of view this is all interesting 
enough ; but it does not add to our conception of Salammbo 
or Carthage. In such a work even as Bekker's CharicleSy 
which professes to illustrate archaeology, these minute descrip- 
tions of material appliances are relegated to the notes. There 
is nothing lyrical in long categories of jewels, coins, plants, 
arms, perfumes ; nothing artistic in the multiplication of 
the many-syllabled names of tribes, of whom little is known 
except that their nasty habits are recorded by Herodotus. 

On the other hand, it must be admitted that we are given 
a very clear picture of one point in which antiquity differs 
from the nineteenth century, viz., in the indifference to 
physical suffering, to butchery, to general noisomeness. 
Flaubert is merciless in this particular ; pools of blood, 
gobbets of flesh, the circumambient entrails of wounded 
elephants, Hanno's leprosy, and still more loathsome pallia- 
tives of that leprosy, pestiferous stinks, putrefaction, assail 
us on every opportunity. This multiplication of horrors 



218 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

amounts to nothing in the end, and eventually affects the 
reader no more than the gory pictures painted outside a 
show at a fair ; yet for all this Flaubert was provided with 
chapter and verse. The only fine conception in the book, 
which is adequately and not redundantly treated, is the love- 
sickness of Matho ; and that is an invention. 

Strange irony ! Flaubert thought when he wrote this 
book that he was giving the rein to his imagination, his 
friends thought he was developing his lyrical tendency ; in 
fact, he was enjoying an orgy of antiquarian erudition. 

The historian may read Salammbo with profit, the student 
with interest, but the book remains a monumental scare- 
crow ; a warning as to how a historical romance should not 
be written. 

In connection with the repulsive descriptions in Salammbo 
there arises the question as to whether wounds and gore and 
evil smells affected Flaubert as they aff*ect the generality of 
men. Most probably not. We have seen that when quite 
a child he was in the habit of watching his father at work in 
the dissecting-room through a window. A surgeon''s house- 
hold is the last place in which squeamishness is encouraged. 
Flaubert describes during his Breton tour the aspect of a 
slaughter-house, enthusiastically ; at Jerusalem he was fasci- 
nated by the place of slaughtering in the street. In measur- 
ing his artistic blunder, we must judge him from his own 
point of view ; these things were not horrible or repellent to 
him ; and he did not believe that they could genuinely be so 
to others. 

More than this, Flaubert was a fanatical worshipper of 
truth ; he could not gloss over, conceal. He was of opinion 
that mankind, as a rule, deceive themselves deliberately ; 
avert their eyes from what is disagreeable, inconsistent with 
their prejudices. We have seen the scrupulous minuteness 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 219 

with which he sought authority for every statement which he 
makes. The result is, however, not a work of art, but a 
scientific document, whose scientific value is to most readers 
non-existent, because it appears in the form of a work of 
fiction. 

Here again, by a strange irony, Flaubert is a flagrant 
sinner against his own rules ; for what has truth to do with 
those works of art which have no subject ? whose words are 
a succession of melodious sounds affecting mankind by their 
beauty, and their beauty only ? 

In holding a brief for truth, as he understood it, and in 
destroying the beauty of his works by descriptions of things 
which to ordinary men and women are nauseous even more 
than ugly, he was as much guilty of writing romances with a 
purpose as Xavier de Maistre or Walter Besant. 

Guy de Maupassant has asked whether Carthage really 
was as Flaubert described it, and decided in the negative — 
why ? Probably because it is impossible to imagine human 
beings existing under the conditions that Flaubert describes ; 
but were they so very much worse than the condition of the 
Netherlands under Alva ? 



CHAPTER XV 



I.' ' 



THE ' EDUCATION SENTIMENTALE LETTERS TO TWO LADIES 

RELIGION 

It is often pleasant to turn from Flaubert the author to 
Flaubert the man. After the publication of Salammbo his 
society was even more sought after than when Madame Bovary 
had startled Paris. He used to spend a few months in the 
winter in the capital, charming by his expansive good-nature, 
his apparently inexhaustible animal spirits, astounding by his 
erudition ; everywhere preaching the gospel of art for art's 
sake. He became a friend of the Priiicesse Mathilde, and 
was even invited to Fontainebleau, where, some one having 
spoken contemptuously of Victor Hugo, he was with diffi- 
culty prevented from reciting Les Chdtiments in the pre- 
sence of the Empress. He became a friend of the brothers 
De Goncourt, of Daudet, of Zola, of Turgenieff. He fre- 
quented the theatres, studied actors and actresses behind 
the scenes, in whom he discovered something peculiarly and 
irresistibly comic. Needless to say that work went on as 
usual. After finishing Salammbo he again picked up St. 
Anthony, and again put it reluctantly aside. Then he 
worked for a while at a fairy piece of a perfectly novel 
construction, in which all metaphors were suddenly to be 
embodied in visible shape on the stage. How this was to be 
managed is not quite apparent ; and as the same difficulty 
suggested itself to theatrical managers the fairy piece was 
never performed or published. 

220 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 221 

At last Flaubert fell back upon another youthful effort, 
which, like the St. Antoine, had been consigned to his port- 
folios. It was called the Education Sentiment ale, and the 
original story was suggested by his own platonic adoration 
of a married woman whom he had met first at Trouville 
when he was only a lad of fourteen. From this experience 
he deduced a theory of disillusionment in the matter of love, 
of a degradation of the ideal ; but men do not only live 
through their conceptions of love, they also live through 
their ideal conceptions of every kind ; their political faiths, 
their ambitions, give way to wider knowledge of life and of 
themselves ; they are often deceived at the outset in their 
very conception of themselves, mistake a love of notoriety 
for patriotism, taste for idle gossip for political activity ; 
congratulate themselves on their originality when they emit 
or swallow ready-made phrases. To illustrate these views 
Flaubert wrote a book, which has little of the original 
Education Sentimentale except the name ; he worked at it 
for six years with the same minute conscientiousness in 
matters of detail that he had expended upon Salammho. 
The period selected for the story is that immediately pre- 
ceding and following the Revolution of "'48 ; and the possible 
environment of the personages at that epoch was most 
carefully worked out. If his characters have to go to Fon- 
tainebleau, Flaubert must ascertain exactly how they would 
be able to travel, whether the railway was open as far as 
Corbeil, and so forth. Details of the fighting in the streets 
in '48 were gathered from eye-witnesses ; the conversations 
of the period are reproduced in the style of the literature 
current at the time ; even the newspapers, so antipathetic to 
Flaubert's own tastes, were carefully exploited. 

Among his correspondents at this time are two ladies, 
one of whom. Mademoiselle Leroyer de Chantepie, he never 



222 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

saw ; she is the lady who wrote to him on the pubhcation 
of Madame Bovary ; the other, Madame Roger des Genettes, 
who died in January 1891, was the granddaughter of the 
Girondin Valaze ; her husband and cousin, Charles Roger 
des Genettes, was descended from one of the eminent mili- 
tary medical men of the first Empire ; she herself lived in 
contact with the most brilliant figures in Parisian literary 
society. In this correspondence Flaubert reveals qualities 
which were not suspected by the male friends of the noisy 
giant, who used to howl verses in the heat of controversy, 
and bang the table till the glasses jingled. While the 
ethical views expressed in these letters are in accordance 
with the known facts of his life, on the other hand, much of 
their philosophy is also to be found in the Saint Antoine ; 
thus these letters are to some extent a bridge connectina; his 
private with his artistic life. 

TO MLLE LEKOYER DE CHANTEPIE. 

'Paris, March 18, '57. 

' , . . With such and so sympathetic a reader as you, madam, 
frankness is a duty ; so I am going to answer your questions. 
There is no real fact in Madame Bovarij ; the story is entirely 
invented ; I have not put into it either my own sentiments or 
any of my own existence. On the contrary, the illusion (if 
there is any) comes from the impersonality of the work. It is 
one of my principles that the author should not describe him- 
self. The artist should be in his work, like God in creation, 
invisible and all-powerful ; he should be felt everywhere, and 
seen nowhere. And then art should be raised above personal 
affections and nervous susceptibilities. It is time to give it the 
precision of the physical sciences by means of pitiless method. 
For me the capital difficulty none the less continues to be 
style, form, the indefinable beauty, which is the result of the 
conception itself, and which is the splendour of truth, as Plato 
used to say.' 

'Croisset, Mai/ 18, '57. 

' . . . You ask me how I cured myself of the nervous halluci- 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 223 

nations from which I formerly suffered ? In two ways : (1) by 
studying them scientifically, that is to say, by trying to under- 
stand them ; and (2) by force of will. I have often felt 
insanity coming upon me. There was a whirl of ideas and 
images in my poor brain, in which my consciousness, my me, 
seemed to founder like a ship beneath a storm. But I clung 
desperately to my reason. It prevailed over everything, though 
besieged and beaten upon. At other times I used to try by 
means of imagination to give myself these horrible sufferings 
factitiously. I have played with madness and fantasy like 
Mithridates with the poisons. I was sustained by a mighty 
pride, and I conquered the mischief by wrestling with it, body 
to body. 

' There is a sentiment, or rather a habit, in which you seem to 
me to be wanting, to wit, the love of co7itemplatio7i. Take life, 
the passions, and yourself, as a subject for intellectual exercise ; 
you revolt against the injustice of the world, its baseness, its 
tyranny, and all the turpitude and nauseousness of existence. 
But do you kfwtv these things thoroughly } Have you studied 
everything .^ Are you God .'' Who tells you that your human 
judgment is infallible .'' that your sentiments do not deceive 
you ? How can we, with our limited senses and our finite 
intelligence, reach an absolute knowledge of the true and the 
good ? Shall we ever grasp the infinite ? If one wishes to live, 
one must renounce the notion of having a clear conception of 
anything whatever. Humanity is so ; our business is not to 
change it, but to know it. 

' . . . I take an example : you are much concerned about the 
injustices of this world, about socialism, about politics. Let it 
be so ! Well, first read all those who have had the same ambi- 
tions as yourself; search the Utopians and the dry thinkers. 
And then, before allowing yourself a final opinion, you will have 
to study a somewhat modern science which is much talked of, 
but little cultivated ; I mean Political Economy. You will be 
astounded to find yourself change your opinions from day to 
day as a man changes his shirt. Never mind ! There will be 
no bitterness in your scepticism, for you sit, as it were, at the 
comedy of Humanity, and History will seem to have passed 
over the world for you alone. 



224 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

' Trivial people^ limited people, presumptuous and enthusiastic 
minds, want to have a conclusion in everything; they seek for 
the aim of life and the dimensions of infinity. They take a 
handful of sand in their poor little fists and say to the ocean, " I 
am going to count the grains on thy shores." But as the grains 
slip between their fingers, and the calculation is long, they 
stamp and cry. Do you know what one should do on the sea- 
shore ? Kneel or walk. Do you walk ! 

' No great genius has concluded, and no great book ends, 
because humanity itself is always on the mai'ch, and does not 
conclude. There is no conclusion in Homer, nor in Shake- 
speare, nor in Goethe, nor in the Bible itself. And so the 
fashionable phrase, " social problem," is to me extremely revolt- 
ing. The day on which it is solved will be the last of the 
planet. Life is an eternal problem, and history too, and every- 
thing. Figures are being perpetually added to the addition 
sum. How many spokes can you count in a revolving wheel ? 
The nineteenth century, in the pride of its emancipation, 
believes itself to have discovered the sun. For example, it 
is said that the Reformation was the preparation for the French 
Revolution. That would be true if everything had been going 
to stop at that point, but this Revolution is itself the prepara- 
tion for another condition ; and so on, and so on. Our most 
advanced ideas will seem very ridiculous, and very backward, 
when we look at them over our shoulders. I bet that in as 
little as fifty years the phrases, social problem, moralisation 
of the masses, progress, and democracy, will have passed 
into the condition of lumber, and will seem as grotesque as 
those of sensibility, nature, predestined and gentle affinities, 
so much in fashion at the end of the eighteenth century. 

' It is because I believe in the perpetual evolution of humanity 
and its ever-changing forms that I hate all the frames into 
which people try to stuff it by force, all the formalities with 
which it is circumscribed, the plans that are dreamed of on its 
behalf. Democracy is no more its last word than slavery has 
been, than feudalism, than monarchy. The horizon perceived 
by human eyes is never the shore, because beyond this horizon 
there is another, and so on for ever ! Thus to me it seems a 
silly form of insanity to seek for the best of religions, or the 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 225 

best of governments. The best, so far as I am concerned, is 
the one which is on its deathbed, because it is making room for 
another. 

' I owe you a bit of a grudge for having said to me in one of 
your preceding letters that you wished for " compulsory educa- 
tion " for everybody. For my part, I abominate everything 
that is compulsory, every law, all government, all rule. Who 
are you, pray, O Society, to force me to anything.^ What 
God made you my master } Observe that you fall back into 
the old injustices of the past. The individual will no longer be 
oppressed by a despot, but by the crowd, the public benefit, the 
eternal " reasons of state," that phrase of all peoples, the maxim 
of Robespierre. I prefer the desert ; I return to the Bedouins, 
who are free. . . .' 

These divagations are followed by a thoughtful review of 
some Mss, which Mademoiselle Leroyer de Chantepie had 
sent. 

The following extract from a letter written at this time 
to Ernest Feydeau, who seems from other evidence to have 
been a person of a somewhat amusing, excessive vanity, 
gives an illustration of Flauberfs conception of the claims 
of friendship : — 

' No, my dear sir, I have never perpetrated any meanness in 
relation to you, even by gesture ; and befoi-e treating a man as 
a sneak, you should have proofs. I think this assumption gra- 
tuitous, and in the worst possible taste, my good fellow. I 
never allow anybody to run down my friends in my presence (it 
is a privilege that I reserve to myself). They belong to me : I 
allow no one to touch them. For the rest, cheer up ! Your 
enemy, Aubryet, spoke no evil of your Lordship to me. I 
only saw him for about twenty minutes. As soon as dinner 
was finished he went on board. There — and you are an imper- 
tinent fellow. 

' Your bad opinion of me comes from the fact that one day 
I did not take your side in an argument. The fact is that I 
thought you both equally ridiculous, and the meanness would 
have been to support theories that were not mine. 

p 



226 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

' You shall pay me for all these insults in the review that I 
propose to write on your ilte, big lunatic ! Meanwhile you 
may boast of having written a certain seventeenth chapter, 
which is a gem.' 

The letter ends humorously enough, but apparently did 
not satisfy the outraged Feydeau, for we have another, 
which begins as follows : — 

' My good fellow, I think it is always a proper thing to wash 
one's dirty linen. Now I wash mine straight off. I did owe you 
a grudge, and I still owe you a bit of a grudge for having sup- 
posed that I said anything evil of your person or your works 
with Aubryet. I am now speaking very seriously. It shocked 
me, wounded me. That is the way I am made. Know that 
that particular form of meanness is completely antipathetic to 
me. I never allow anybody to say more evil to me of my 
friends than I am in the habit of saying to their faces. And 
when a stranger opens his mouth to abuse one of them, I 
promptly close it for him. The contrary proceeding is very 
fashionable, as I know, but it is no custom of mine. Let there 
be no further talk about it, and if you don't understand me, so 
much the worse for you. Let us talk of less serious things, and 
do me the honour for the futui'e not to judge of me as of the 
first person you meet. 

' Know besides, O Feydeau, that I never humbug. There is 
no more serious animal in the world than myself. I laugh 
sometimes, but joke very little, and less now than ever.' 

Feydeau must have given occasion to many amusing scenes 
when in Flauberfs society. For example : — 

' Why do you persist in torturing my nei'ves by maintaining 
against me that a plot of cabbages is more beautiful than the 
desert } You will pennit me to beg you first to go and see the 
desert before talking about it. But in this preference given to 
the vulgar vegetable I can only see a desire to make me furious.' 

Mademoiselle Leroyer de Chantepie could stir a gentler 

mood : — 

' Have you noticed how we love our sufferings .'' You cling 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 227 

to your religious ideas, which cause you so much pain, and I to 
my chimera of style, which wears me out body and soul. But 
perhaps it is only by our sufferings that we are worth any- 
thing, for they are, after all, aspirations. There are so many 
people whose pleasures are so filthy, and ideal so limited, 
that we ought to bless our misfortunes if they make us more 
worthy. . . . Yes, one should read Spinoza. The people who 
accuse him of atheism are donkeys. Goethe used to say : 
" When I feel worried I read the Ethics (of Spinoza) over again." 
You will perhaps have the good fortune, like Goethe, to be 
calmed by this grand reading. I lost ten years ago the man 
whom I loved best in the world, Alfred Lepoittevin. In his 
last illness he spent his nights reading Spinoza. 

'I have never known anybody (and I know a good many 
people) of so transcendental a mind as this friend of whom I 
tell you. We used sometimes to spend six continuous hours 
talking metaphysics. We have been high, I assure you. Since 
his death I converse with hardly any one ; I chatter, or I hold 
my tongue. Alas ! what a city of the dead is the human heart ! 
Why go to the cemeteries } Let us open our reminiscences, 
how many tombs ! 

' How was your youth spent ? Mine was vei'y beautiful in- 
wardly. I had enthusiasms which I now seek for in vain ; 
friends, alas ! who are dead or changed. A great confidence in 
myself, splendid leaps of the soul, something impetuous in my 
whole personality. I dreamed of love, glory, beauty. My heart 
was as wide as the world, and I breathed all the winds of 
heaven. And then gradually I have grown callous, tarnished. 
No ! I accuse nobody but myself ! I sank myself in absurd 
sentimental gymnastics. I took a pleasure in fighting my 
senses, and in torturing my heart. I repelled the human in- 
toxications which were offered me. Furious with myself, I 
uprooted the man with both my hands, two hands full of pride 
and strength. I wished to make of that tree with verdant 
foliage a bare column to place on its summit, as on an altar, I 
know not what divine flame. . . . That is why I find myself at 
six-and- thirty so empty, and at times so fatigued ! Is not this 
story of mine that I tell you a little like your own } ' 



228 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

Early in 1858 a letter to Madame Roger des Genettes con- 
tains the following passage : — 

' The manner in which all religions talk of God revolts me ; 
they treat Him with so much certainty, levity, familiarity. 
The priests, who have this name always on their lips, irritate 
me above all. It is with them a kind of chronic sneeze — "the 
goodness of God, the wrath of God, to offend God," these are 
their phrases. It is considering Him as if He were a man, and, 
what 's worse, a middle-class man. They are further wild to 
decorate Him with attributes, as savages put feathers on their 
fetish. Some paint infinity blue, others black. Utter savagery 
all that. We are still cropping the grass, and walking on all- 
fours in spite of balloons. The ideal that humanity forms for 
itself of God does not go beyond that of an Oriental monarch 
surrounded by his court. The religious ideal is, in fact, several 
centuries behind the social ideal, and there are heaps of 
mountebanks who make a pretence of falling down faint with 
admiration in its presence.' 

Mademoiselle Leroyer de Chantepie was by way of being 
an authoress, and Flaubert took pains to find suitable books 
for her to read, to criticise what she had already written ; at 
the same time he would expand in personal confidences ; he 
liked playing the part of spiritual director ; thus he says, 
writing on the 26th of December 1858 : — 

' I seem to forget you ! Nothing of the kind ! My thoughts 
often travel to you, and I address prayers to the Unknown God 
of whom St. Paul spoke for the tranquillisation and satisfaction 
of your heart. You hold in my soul a very high — a very pure 
place — a wide space ; indeed, you would hardly credit the senti- 
mental amazement that your first letters caused me. I am in- 
debted to you for having felt myself at once better and more 
intelligent because of you.' 

Two months later we have a letter which would have 
made our old friend Madame Colet rave : — 

* That is a sad story that of the young girl, your relative, who 
went mad in consequence of religious notions, but it is a com- 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 229 

mon story. One must have a robust constitution to mount on 
the peaks of mysticism without losing one's head. And then in 
all that, and especially in the case of women, there ai'e questions 
of temperament which complicate the malady. Do you not see 
that they are all in love with Adonis ? What they ask for is 
the eternal husband. Ascetic or voluptuous, they still dream of 
love, of the great love ; and to cure them (at any rate tem- 
porarily) they do not want an idea but a fact, a husband, a 
child, a lover. To you this seems equivocal. But I was not 
the inventor of human nature. I am convinced that the most 
extravagant material appetites are unconsciously formulated by 
bursts of idealism, in the same way that the most impure ex- 
travagances of the flesh are engendered by a pure longing for 
Jthe impossible, an ethereal aspiration after the supreme pleasure. 
And further, I do not know, and nobody knows, what these two 
words soul and body mean ; where the one ends and the other 
begins. We feel forces, and that is all. Materialism and 
spiritualism still weigh too heavily on the science of man to 
enable us to study all these phenomena impartially. The 
anatomy of the human heart has not yet been done. Then 
how can one cure it } It will be the special glory of the nine- 
teenth century to have begun these i*esearches. The historic 
sense is quite new in the world. People are now about begin- 
ning to study ideas like facts, and to dissect beliefs like 
organisms. There is a whole school working in the shade, and 
which will do something, of that I am sure. 

' Do you read the fine works of Renan } Do you know the 
books of Lanfrey, of Maury ? 

' As for me, in these latter days I have incidentally returned 
to those psycho-medical studies which charmed me so much ten 
years ago when I was writing my Saint Anthoiiy. In connection 
with my Salammho, I have occupied myself with hysteria and 
mental alienation. There are treasures to be discovered in all 
that. But life is short and art is long, indeed almost impossible 
when one is writing in a language worn down to the thread, 
worm-eaten, debilitated, and ci-acking under the finger at every 
effort. What despairs, what agonies are caused by this love of 
the beautiful ! For the rest, I have undertaken an unrealisable 
task. Never mind ! If I make some few noble imaginations 



230 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

dream, I shall not have lost my time. 1 am barely yet at the 
quarter of my work, I have still enough to do for two years.' 

This light thrown on the character of Salammbo is sug- 
gestive ; without it the reader of the romance of Carthage 
would hardly have guessed the precise significance which 
Flaubert attached to the vague yearnings of his heroine, her 
prayers, her fastings, and religious exaltation. 

Madame Roger des Genettes also consulted her director 
from time to time, ' the confessor of the ladies of disillusion,"' 
as he once styled himself in writing to Georges Sand. 

' Your letter of this morning made me think for a long 
while. I prefer these truthful cries to efforts to laugh and 
joke; for you are entirely ignorant of what joy really is. You 
want that energy, that natural gift. Then weep freely on the 
heart of your friend ; he will try to wipe away your tears, 
although he is wounded by your injustice. You say you do not 
know me any more than a language of which one writes but a 
few words. And yet what have I concealed from you ? It 
seems to me that I am naturally open. Nothing is less compli- 
cated than my mind. But you have been spoiled by the world, 
and Catholicism. You are full of sophistries, and confused 
sentiments which prevent you from seeing truth. God had 
made you better, and it is for that reason that I love you, for 
you must have suffered horribly, and you suffer still, poor dear 
friend ! 

' For my part, I presume to say that I know you ; now in your 
life and in your soul I catch glimpses of gulfs of weariness and 
sorrows, a solitude, an eternal Sahara, which you traverse cease- 
lessly. I know nobody so profoundly sceptical as you are, and 
you torture yourself in every possible way to believe. I irritate 
you horribly, and perhaps that is the very reason why you cling 
to me, I find fault with you for having treated me like any- 
body else, when I loved you, as nobody will love you. . . . 

'. . . It is however so easy to have a coal-heaver's faith, to 
admire what is admirable, to laugh at what is funny, to hate 
the ugly, the false, the obscure, to be, in one word, human, I do 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 231 

not say humanitarian, to read history, and to warm oneself in 
the sun ! So little is wanted to fill a human soul ! I hear the 
objection by anticipation ; I see coming up the long row of 
those who have sung of the insufficiency of earthly life, of the 
nothingness of science, the natural feebleness of human affec- 
tions. But are you quite sure of knowing life ? Have you 
been to the bottom of science ? Are you not too feeble for 
passion ? Do not let us find fault with alcohol, but with our 
own digestive organs, or our own intemperance. Who is there 
among us who imceasingly struggles to bring himself nearer to 
God without hope of reward, without personal interest, without 
expectation of profit .'' Who is there who works to be bigger 
and better, to love more strongly, to feel more intensely, to 
understand more .''... 

' . . . You know well that I do not share your opinion of 
the personality of M. de Voltaire in any way. For me he is a 
saint. Why persist in seeing a low comedian in a man who was 
a fanatic .'' M. de Maistre has said of him, in his treatise on 
sacrifices, " There is no flower in the garden of intellect which 
has not been defiled by this caterpillar." I can no more forgive 
M. de Maistre for this phrase than I pardon MM. Stendhal, 
Veuillot, Proudhon, for all their verdicts. The consumptive, 
anti-artistic breed is the same. Temperament stands for a good 
deal in our literary affections. Now I like the great Voltaire 
as much as I detest the great Rousseau ; and I take the differ- 
ence in our estimates very much to heart. I am surprised that 
you do not admire this great pulse, which moved the world. 
Can such results be obtained by the insincere .'' In this verdict 
of yours you belong to the school of the eighteenth century 
which saw in religious enthusiasm only the mummery of priests. 
Let us bow before all altars. Li short, that particular man 
seems to me burning, eager, convinced, superb. His " Let us 
crush the infamous " affects me like the shout of a crusade. 
His whole intellect was an engine of war. And what makes 
me particularly fond of him is the disgust with which the 
Voltairians inspire me ; people who laugh at great things ! 
Did he laugh — he } He gnashed his teeth. . . ." 

Eight years later Flaubert wrote the following letter to 



232 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

Mademoiselle Leroyer de Chantepie, with whom he still 
maintained an intermittent correspondence : — 

'Paris, June l6, 1867. 

' The pleasure that it gives me to receive your letters, dear 
lady, is counterbalanced by the sorrow that is revealed in them. 
What a fine soul you possess ! and what a dismal existence is 
yours ! I think I understand it. That is why I love you. 

' I, like you, have known the intense melancholy which the 
Angelus brings on summer evenings. Calm as I am on the 
surface, I too have been ravaged, and — must I say it ? — am still 
so sometimes. But convinced of this truth, that as soon as a 
man thinks of himself he is ill, I try to intoxicate myself with 
art as others do with brandy. By mere strength of will one 
arrives at losing the notion of one's own personality. Believe 
me, one is not happy, but one suffers less, 

'No — undeceive yourself! I never scoff at your religious 
sentiments, not even in the deepest depths of my conscious- 
ness. All piety attracts me, and Catholic piety above all. But 
I do not understand the nahire of your doubts. Have they 
reference to dogma, or to yourself.'' If I understand what you 
write to me, it seems to me that you feel yourself iniivorthy. 
Then be comforted, for you sin by excess of humility, which is 
a great virtue. Unworthy ! Why } Poor dear sorrowing soul 
that you are ! Take heart. Your God is good, and you have 
suffered enough to make Him love you. But if you have doubts 
of the very foundations of religion (and this is what I believe, 
whatever you may say), why distress yourself about failing in 
duties which then cease to be duties ? Suppose a sincere 
Catholic to turn Mussulman (for one motive or another) ; that is 
a crime in the eyes of religion, as in those of philosophy ; but 
if this Catholic is not a believer, his change of religion has no 
more importance than a change of coat. Everything depends 
upon the value which we assign to things. We ourselves make 
morality and virtue. The cannibal, who eats his fellow, is as 
innocent as the child who sucks his barley-sugar. Why then 
afflict yourself at not being able to confess or to communicate, 
since you cannot ? From the moment that this duty is no 
longer practicable it ceases to be a duty. But no ! The 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 233 

admiration that you evince for Jean Reynaud proves to me that 
you are full in the current of contemporary criticism, and yet 
you cling by inclination, by habit, and by your personal nature 
to the beliefs of the past. If you wish to get out of this diffi- 
culty, I repeat to you, you must take a line ; resolutely fling 
yourself upon the one or the other. Be with Saint Theresa or 
Voltaire. Whatever people may say, there is no mean term, 

' Humanity at the present day is exactly like you. The 
blood of the Middle Ages still pulses in its veins, and it 
pants for the mighty air of future centuries, which only bring 
it storms. 

'And all that because one insists on a solution. Oh, pride 
of man ! A solution ! The end ! The Cause ! But we should 
be God if we held the cause, and the further we go the further 
it will retire, infinitely, because our horizon will widen. The 
more perfect the telescopes, the more numerous the stars. We 
are condemned to roll in darkness and tears. 

' When I look at one of those little stars in the Milky Way, I 
say to myself that the earth is no bigger than one of those 
sparks. And I, who gravitate for a moment upon that spark, 
who am I ? What are we ? This sentiment of my lowness, of 
my insignificance, comforts me. I seem to have become a grain 
of dust lost in space, and yet I form a pai*t of the unlimited 
greatness which enfolds me. I have never understood that 
that could be a despairing idea ; for it might well be, that 
behind the black curtain there was nothing. The infinite, for 
the rest, sinks all our conceptions, and from the moment that 
it is, why should there be an end for so relative a thing as our- 
selves ? 

* Imagine a man who, with balances a thousand cubits high, 
should wish to weigh the sand of the sea. When he had filled 
his two scales they would overflow, and his work would be no 
further advanced than at the beginning. 

' All the philosophies are at that point. They may say, if they 
please, "Still there is a weight, there is a certain figure which 
we should know, let us try," the scales are magnified, the rope 
breaks, and always, always so ! Then be more Chiistian, and 
resign yourself to ignorance. You ask me what books to read. 
Read Montaigne ; read him slowly, steadily. He will calm you. 



234 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

And do not listen to people who talk of his egotism. You will 
like him, you will see. But do not read, as the children read, 
to amuse yourself, nor as ambitious people read, to get in- 
struction. No ! read to live ! Make an intellectual atmosphere 
for your soul, which shall be composed of the emanation of all 
the great minds. Study Shakespeare and Goethe thoroughly. 
Read translations of the Greek and Roman authors, — Homer, 
Petronius, Plautus, Apuleius, etc. And when something bores 
you, fling yourself into it, you will soon understand it. That 
will be a satisfaction for you. It is a question of working, do 
you understand me } I do not like seeing a nature so fine as 
yours engulfed in vexation and idleness. Widen your horizon, 
and you will breathe more freely. If you were a man, and 
were only twenty years old, I would advise you to travel round 
the world. Well — make the tour of the world in your own 
room ! Study a thing that you have no suspicion of — the 
World ! But I recommend you Montaigne before everything 
else. Read him from one end to the other, and when you have 
got to the end, begin again. The advice (doctor's advice 
doubtless) that is given to you seems to me unintelligent. You 
must, on the contrary, fatigue your thought. Do not believe 
that it is worn out. It is not from cramp that it is suffering, but 
from convulsions. These folk for the rest understand nothing 
of the soul. I know them, — there !" 

Flaubert never met Mademoiselle Leroyer de Chantepie. 
If he had done so, what then ? To us she appears, through 
his letters, a somewhat vaporous and sentimental female, who 
hooked herself on to the author of Madame Bovary^ touched 
the string of tenderness in him, and was initiated, as a reward, 
into mysteries beyond her comprehension. Whether she was 
comforted in the contemplation of her own nothingness is 
open to doubt ; but, for all that, Flaubert's position with 
regard to religion is an essentially sound one. What we are 
concerned with is the rules which regulate the infinitely little 
corner of space in which we live, our own immediate sur- 
roundings. Philosophers may define God and the Infinite 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 235 

as they please, none the less we have to eat our three square 
meals a day, and accommodate ourselves to the convictions 
of those around us ; if we cannot fit to the measure of our 
neighbours, the only comfort to be found is in intellectually 
testing it, and rising above it. To be irritated at it is 
essentially feeble; the motives which impel the different 
individuals who form the society in which we perforce live 
are by us unalterable ; then let us understand them ; and to 
understand them we must study in considerable detail our 
own little corner of space. We may arrive at the conclusion 
at which Flaubert arrived, that though the basis of morality 
is not demonstrably supernatural, the necessity of morality 
in civilised society is inevitable. 

It is, in fact, not possible to construct any ethical system 
whereby it could be demonstrated to the common man that, 
from a self-regarding point of view, it is to his advantage to 
deny himself the gratification of his passions, except in cases 
in which his bodily health is immediately affected ; and the 
association of morality with supernatural sanctions is simply 
a statement of this fact ; on the other hand, that human 
society is impossible where the individual emancipates him- 
self from self-denial and self-control, is equally obvious. 
Therefore the man who refuses the supernatural sanction is 
none the less bound to accept the moral restraints imposed 
by the conditions of the society in which he lives. He 
wastes his time if he battles with them ; he is apt to be 
martyred if he makes war upon the creed with which they 
are supposed to be inextricably involved. 

The man who makes himself miserable because he cannot 
accept the religious convictions of his neighbour is intellec- 
tually absurd ; for he must either know more, in which case 
he should congratulate himself, or feel himself below these 
convictions, in which case he should study them, live up to 



236 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

them ; he still has an ambition and a standard. The one 
point on which Flaubert only lightly touched — the hold that 
the outward practices enjoined by religion still maintain 
upon the person who has begun to apply criticism to them — 
is after all the real practical difficulty. At the bottom it is 
not the loss of faith which the sceptically-minded person 
regrets, it is the companionship of the human beings to 
whom he has been accustomed. Intellectually it was quite 
correct to say that the sorrows of the sceptic arise from not 
going far enough, from trying to halt between St. Theresa 
and Voltaire ; that the student of humanity, the man who 
does not set himself to build up an ideal of what men should 
be, but who fearlessly tries to find out what man is, has no 
further need to vex himself with his own shortcomings in 
the matter of religious conviction. But this intellectual 
wellbeing will not comfort the son who finds that between 
himself and a dearly loved mother a wall has grown up, that 
a whole world of sympathies which they shared has become 
on his side a region which is entered with conscious conces- 
sion to weakness ; worse than all, that she cannot accept the 
concession, Flaubert himself was never called upon to 
grapple with this particular trouble, and for that reason he 
unden-ates its magnitude in all its varieties. Nor had he any 
experience of the terrible isolation of the dissident. It is 
from this that the majority of sceptical souls shrink. The 
long process by which the savage has been tamed into the 
civilised or civilisable man has left its impress upon each 
individual in many ways ; the dread of solitariness is part of 
the price which the individual has to pay for the comfort 
of society, 

Flaubert never attempted to construct a system ; his 
letters were not written for publication, and those who 
endeavour to find a system in them, or construct a system 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 237 

out of them, will be wofuUy disappointed. On the other 
hand, it is good to know how he expressed himself intimately 
on the questions of faith and creed, if only as a contradiction 
to the prevalent assumption that a person who intellectually 
rejects a creed necessarily quarrels with it or scoffs at it. 
There is a reverent revolt as well as an irreverent rejection ; 
and it is possible to acknowledge with all humility that the 
religious attitude ' makes for righteousness "* ; also to feel that 
the mere scoffer is infinitely contemptible, though the per- 
sonality of particular upholders of this or that dogma may 
be open to ridicule, and even to stronger condemnation. 
When Napoleon iii. took religion under his protection the 
bitter speech Avas inevitable ; but it was not religion that 
was the object of Flaubert's mockery, rather those mean- 
spirited officials of religion who could accept for their faith 
the patronage of a Louis Napoleon. 

Flauberfs intellectual position on religious questions is 
clearly seen in the St. Anthony ; his estimate of the scoffer 
in the person of Homais ; while the Abbe Bournisien, in 
spite of his mental incapacity, is one of the very few char- 
acters in Madame Bovary whom one is disposed to respect. 



CHAPTER XVI 

DEATH OF LOUIS BOUILHET HIS AUTISTIC IDEALS FLAUBERt's 

LETTER TO THE TOWN COUNCIL OF ROUEN 

In 1869 Flaubert suffered a great loss, Louis Bouilhet died 
on the 18th July. In the annals of friendship it is not easy 
to find a pair who were so closely united as these two men. 
Both had other friends, women as well as men, but the tie 
which bound them was never strained by jealousy or 
weakened by diffusion of affection. 

There are comparatively few letters to Bouilhet ; for many 
years the friends met regularly once a Aveek, and the periods 
during which they were separated were not of long duration. 

For Bouilhet Flaubert would do what he would not do for 
himself, — assail publishers, storm theatres, placard advertise- 
ments ; when ' Madame de Montarcy "* was produced at the 
Odeon, Flaubert simply took possession of the stage, the 
actors, the box-office, the attendants in the theatre ; at the 
rehearsals he carried all before him in a whirlwind of flying 
dressing-gown ; and after the poet's death he broke out of 
his literary seclusion to superintend in the same way the 
production of 'Mademoiselle Aisse.'' On the other hand, 
Louis Bouilhet was, as we have seen, the one person who 
could repress Flauberfs literary extravagances, and who did 
so ; he was the one critic whose censures and corrections 
Flaubert accepted without subsecjuent resentment. He often 
fought against them at the time, raved, howled, entreated, 

238 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 239 

implored, but Bouilhet was immovable ; and when Flaubert 
had once submitted to him, he kept faith. 

The following touching sentence in a letter written to 
Jules Duplan just after Bouilhet's death, and whose sub- 
stance is often repeated in the correspondence, sufficiently 
indicates the strength and the nature of the union between 
these two men : — 

' Your poor giant has suffered a rude buffet, from which he 
will not recover. I say to myself, ' Why write now, since he is 
no longer there ? ' It is all over : those good bouts of howling 
verses, the enthusiasms in common, the future works dreamed 
of together. One should be "philosophical and a man of in- 
tellect" ; but it is not easy.' 

As usual on the death of an intimate friend, Flaubert 
wrote to Maxime Ducamp ; one passage in the letter re- 
minds us again of the grotesque, which ever waited on 
Flaubert : — 

' From Paris to Rouen in a carriage full of people. I had 
opposite me a damsel who smoked cigarettes, stretched her feet 
on the seat, and sang. On seeing the steeples of Mantes again 
(where Bouilhet had lived for some time) I thought I was going 
mad, and I am sure I was not far from it. Seeing me very pale, 
the young lady offered me eau-de-Cologne. That revived me, 
but what a thirst ! That in the desert of Qoseir was nothing 
in comparison.' 

Maxime Ducamp in his Literary Reminiscences somewhat 
disparages the friendship between Flaubert and Bouilhet, 
suggests that the friends injured one another by their mutual 
admiration ; each would have done more had it not been for 
the friend, and so forth ; this too at the same time that he 
praises the rigour with which Bouilhet lopped off Flaubert's 
excrescences. It is difficult to determine in such cases the 
exact nature of the influence exercised by a pair of friends 
upon one another ; for this influence is certainly not limited 



240 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

to mutual criticism ; there is also the stimulus of the wish 
to please the friend, to justify his affection by adequate 
performance. Bouilhet, though bold enough with his pen, 
was deficient in self-assurance, easily disconcerted by pub- 
lishers and theatrical managers ; Flaubert found courage for 
him ; pushed him where he would not push himself; eventu- 
ally secured his election as librarian at Rouen, in the hope 
that financial ease might give him a fair opportunity of put- 
ting forth all his power. Unfortunately the well-meant gift 
came too late : the poet was already stricken with the ener- 
vating malady which killed him. Of the intimate nature of 
the friendship between the two men, the depth of their affec- 
tion for one another, there is abundant evidence ; Flauberfs 
few published letters to Bouilhet are written with a spon- 
taneity which distinguishes them even in his unreserved cor- 
respondence. There is a certainty of comprehension in them 
which there is not always m his letters. Outwardly, in spite 
of the great difference in manner — Flaubert noisy, impetuous, 
Bouilhet shrinking, reserved, — there was a strong personal 
resemblance between the friends ; they were frequently taken 
for brothers. 

It is further more difficult for an Englishman than a 
Frenchman to estimate Flauberfs literary influence upon 
Bouilhet, for Bouilhet wrote nothing but verse, and the 
mystery of the melody of French poetry is to Englishmen a 
sealed book ; few Englishmen can even hear the distinctions 
between French vowel-sounds, and it is in their skilful com- 
bination that the merit of a French poem is said to consist. 
On the other hand, in spite of Maxime Ducamp's praise of 
Bouilhefs rigid censure of the superabundant in Flaubert, 
it was not till after the death of Bouilhet that the three short 
stories were written in which this particular defect is absent, 
while the Education Sentimentule in which Ducamp deplores 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 241 

the absence of Bouilhefs control was written during his hfe- 
time and published immediately after his death ; it must 
have enjoyed considerable revision by him. 

The conclusion of Flauberfs preface to Bouilhefs post- 
humous volume of poems shows what Flaubert believed to 
be his friend's artistic position ; one is inclined to suspect 
that it is to some extent also a position which Flaubert 
made for him : — 

' He thought that Art is a serious thing, whose aim is to pro- 
duce a vague exaltation, and even that all its morality lies in that. 
I extract from a note-book the three following passages : 

' " In poetry the question whether the morals are virtuous 
should not be considered, but whether they are in accordance 
with those of the person represented. Accordingly poetry de- 
scribes good and bad actions for us indifferently, without offering 
the latter to us as an example." — Pierre Cornehxe. 

' " Art should only think in her creations of those faculties 
which really have the right to judge her. If she does other- 
wise, she walks in a wrong road." — Goethe. 

' " All the intellectual beauties that are to be discovered in a 
fine style, all the complex relations which form it, are so many 
truths as useful to the public intelligence as those which form 
the essence of the subject,and perhaps more valuable." — Buffon. 

' Thus Art having her own end in herself should not be con- 
sidered as a means. In spite of all the genius that could be put 
into the development of one story, another might serve to prove 
the contrary ; for the ends of plots are not conclusions ; from a 
particular case general deductions cannot be made : and those 
who think themselves in that matter progressive, run counter to 
modern science, which demands the accumulation of a number 
of facts before a law is established. 

'Accordingly Bouilhet gave a wide berth to that preaching 
form of Art which claims to instruct, correct, make moral. He 
thought still less of the toy-shop Art, which aims at amusing, 
like a game of cards, or causing emotion like an assize court ; and 
he did not use the democratic Art, being convinced that its form, 
to be accessible to all, would have to descend very low, and 

Q 



242 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

that in civilised ages one becomes silly when one tries to be 
simple. As for official Art, he rejected its advantages, because 
he would have been obliged to defend causes which are not 
eternal. 

'Shunning paradox, morbid conditions, curiosities, all the 
short paths, he took the high road, that is to say the ordinary 
sentiments, the unchangeable sides of the human soul. And as 
" ideas form the essence of style," he tried to think clearly, in 
order to write well. Never did he say : 

' " The play is a good one, if Sal has shed tears," 

he who wrote plays that moved to weeping, for he did not 
believe that emotion can take the place of artistic method. 

' He hated the modern maxim that " one should write as one 
speaks." In fact, the care given to a work, the long research, 
the time, the trouble, all that was formerly a recommendation, 
has now become a laughing-stock, so superior are we to all that 
kind of thing, so overflowing with genius and facility. 

^ Not that he was wanting in this respect : his actors have 
seen him make considerable corrections in their very midst. 
"Inspiration," he would say, "should be invited, not sub- 
mitted to." 

' Plastic being the first quality of Art, he gave his conceptions 
the strongest possible relief, following that same Buffon, who 
recommends that each idea should be expressed by an image. 
But middle-class people are of opinion, so spiritual are they, that 
colour is too material a thing to express sentiment, and their 
French common sense, so comfortable on its peaceful hobby, is 
afraid of being carried off to the skies, and cries every moment : 
" Too many metaphors ! " as if it had a stock of them for sale. 

' Few authors have taken such care in the choice of words, 
the variety of periods, transitions, — and he never conceded the 
title of writer to one who possesses only certain parts of style. 
How many of those most highly extolled would be incapable of 
constructing a narrative, joining end to end in an analysis, a 
portrait, a dialogue ! 

' He intoxicated himself with the rhythm of verses, the cad- 
ence of prose, which should, like verse, be able to be read aloud. 
Badly written phrases cannot stand this test ; they weigh on the 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 243 

chest, disturb the action of the heart, and are thus outside the 
conditions of healthy hfe. 

' His Hberahty of view made him admit all schools ; Shake- 
speare and Boileau elbowed one onother on his table. 

' Of the Greeks he preferred first the Odyssey, then Aristo- 
phanes the immense, and among the Latins, not the authors of 
the Augustan era (except Virgil), but the others, who have some- 
what more stiffness, sonority, as Tacitus and Juvenal. He had 
studied Apuleius deeply. 

'He used to read Rabelais continually, liked Corneille and 
Lafontaine : nor did his romanticism prevent him from extolling 
Voltaire. 

' But he hated Academy speeches, apostrophes to God, advice 
to the people, what smells of the sewer, what stinks of vanilla, 
the poetry of the pot-house, and dandified literature, the ponti- 
fical style, and the style of the shirt-maker. 

' Many refinements were completely foreign to him, such as the 
idolatry of the eighteenth century, the admiration of the style 
of Calvin, the unceasing lamentation over the decadence of the 
Arts, He had very little respect for M. de Maistre. He was 
not dazzled by Proudhon. 

' According to him, sober minds were merely poor minds ; and 
he abominated that sham good taste which is more execrable 
than bad, discussions upon the beautiful, the cackle of criticism. 
He would have been hung rather than write a preface. Here is 
something which will say all this at greater length : it is a page 
of a scribbling book entitled " Notes and Plans " — plans ! 

' " The present century is essentially paedagogic. There is not 
a scribbler who does not reel off his harangue, no book, however 
feeble, which does not hoist itself into a pulpit ! As to form, it 
is proscribed. If you have the fortune to write well, you are 
accused of wanting ideas. Wanting ideas ! Good God ! One 
must be fool enough, indeed, to do without them considering 
the price they cost. The recipe is simple ; with two or three 
words : future, progress, society, you are a poet, were you Topi- 
nambo himself ! A comfortable labour which encourages fools, 
and consoles the envious. O stinking mediocrity ! Utilitarian 
poetry ! Usher's literature ! Esthetic gabblings, economical 
eructations, scrofulous productions of an exhausted race, I hate 



244 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

you with all the power of my soul. You are not gangrene, you 
are atrophy ! You are not the red warm inflammation of the 
periods of fever, but the chill abscess with its pale edges, 
which comes down like a spring from some depth of internal 
rottenness ! " 

' The day after his death Theophile Gauthier wrote : " He 
carried high the old banner, torn in so many conflicts ; we may 
wrap ourselves in it, as in a shroud. The brave band of Her- 
nani is no more." That is true. His was an existence entirely 
devoted to the ideal, one of those rare henchmen of literature 
for literature's sake, the last fanatics of a religion near its extin- 
tion — or extinct. 

'"A genius of the second order," some will say. But those 
of the fourth are not now so very common. Look how the 
desert widens ! a wind of inanity, a waterspout of vulgarity, 
envelops us, ready to cover up every height, every elegance. 
People feel happy now in not respecting great men ; and maybe 
we are on the point of losing, along with the literary tradition, 
that indefinable aerial something which used to put into life 
itself something higher than life. To create lasting works one 
should not laugh at glory. A little wit is gained by the culti- 
vation of imagination, and much nobility by the contemplation 
of fine things.' 

Such was Flauberfs conception of Bouilhefs literary 
ideal; or is he only putting his own views in the mouth 
of his dead friend "^ Unquestionably the friends thought 
alike, and it was their loudly proclaimed doctrine of ' Art 
for Arfs sake ' which was so annoying to serious-minded 
persons like Maxime Ducamp. 

This doctrine, like every other dogma, must be studied 
rather with a view to what it contradicts than to what it 
affirms. There are people who seriously maintain that 
' novels with a purpose ' are superior to all other romances. 
Mr. Walter Besant's later books are therefore superior to 
the Waverley Novels ; and on what a sublime throne is 
elevated Madame Sarah Grand with her Heavenly Twins ! 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 245 

Roughly speaking, literary men are divided into two not 
necessarily conflicting schools ; there is the school of matter 
and the school of form. Of these schools the Teutonic 
genius inclines to the first, the Latin to the second. In 
Greek literature both are found in their completest expres- 
sion. Latin and its eldest daughter Italian give us the 
most artificial literary forms that have been used. Compare 
Virgil's Mneid with the Odyssey, the Sonnets of Petrarch 
with Chaucer''s Passionate Pilgrim, the prose of Tacitus 
with the prose of Plato ; in the three Latin authors you 
feel that the style is everything; in the others that it is 
something, but not everything. Or, again, read a play of 
Shakespeare, and afterwards the (Edipus Rex ; both have 
matter, ideas ; but the wealth of the one is as incomparable 
with the other as is the irregularity of the English poet 
with the stately forms of the Greek. 

Perfection lies in having something to say, and in saying 
it^in-the best possible manner ; but it cannot be denied 
that great pleasure may be derived from works in which 
much is said badly, and also from those in which a little is 
said weU. There are times when, and places where, the 
pendulum of taste swings unduly in one direction or the 
other. On the whole, the French tendency is towards form, 
the English tendency towards matter ; yet England has 
produced Milton, and France Rabelais. 

The other question, as to whether the artist should be a 
preacher or no, is one of extreme difficulty. To deny that 
moral beauty is a fit subject for art is absurd ; and it is 
equally ridiculous to declare a work of art immoral which 
does not obviously teach a lesson. In his paradoxical moods 
Flaubert would assert that an effective description of a 
sunset was essentially no more beautiful than the description 
of a disembowelled ox. The artistic power of reproducing 



246 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

the sensations with which the one or the other is contem- 
plated being the achievement. We are disposed to quarrel 
with him when he makes this assertion ; and yet we willingly 
admit that the power of portraying moral hideousness is as 
high an artistic accomplishment as that of depicting moral 
beauty. 

The province of literature is not settled by argumenta- 
tion ; the question to be scientifically decided is not what 
should he the aim of literature, but what does literature 
actually effect ? A very small literary experience is enough 
to show that in the art of letters, as in all other arts, there 
are always a few technical proficients possessing the highest 
possible skill in the manipulation of material, in the choice 
of words, the laying on of colour, the grip of the bow 
upon the string, whose performance raises and maintains the 
standard of the mass, and whose methods, falling at rare 
intervals into the hands of the man of genius, give us the 
imperishable works. 

For artistic conscience will not of itself alone give birth to 
the completest works of art, though without it there can be 
no art. Flaubert himself has said that the most perfect 
technical performance is not to be looked for in the giants, 
in the Shakespeares, but in the men of the second rank, in 
the Molieres. To a few men the intelligent contemplation 
of perfect artistic performance is in the highest degree 
chastening and salutary, to them, as to Flaubert, there exists 
neither purity nor impurity in art ; your true book cannot 
be impure. But there are two difficulties which always 
beset the question of the artist's morality : one is the fact 
that the mass do not appreciate works of art Avith an artist's 
eyes ; in looking at a picture they do not look only for 
beauty, they look for a stoiy, a suggestion, the wakening of 
a reminiscence ; they prefer Frith's ' Derby Day ' or Luke 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 247 

Fildes' 'Rustic Wedding"' to the 'Madonna di San Sisto,' Land- 
seer to Alma Tadema ; and another fact is that, books being 
scattered broadcast, a perfectly artistic presentment of de- 
bauchery despised by the author may prove over-attractive 
to the imagination of the inexperienced reader. The passions 
are capable of being stimulated (sometimes unhealthily) by 
literature ; and this is the reason why the statement that 
' Art has no morality ' shocks most of us. Flaubert would 
say that the unhealthy stimulus is unhealthy because the 
presentment of the facts is incomplete ; and would further 
urge against the preaching books, that they are seriously 
demoralising, because they misrepresent the facts of life ; 
that optimistic literature encourages tendencies which are 
inherently unsoimd ; in the long-run even dangerous to the 
wellbeing of society. His protest is not unneeded ; espe- 
cially in our own country, where the tendency-literature is 
paramount, and where its attractions have spoiled many a 
good artist ; if Carlyle had been content to be a humourist, 
Dickens forborne to meddle with social reforms, Thackeray 
abstained from moralising, Kingsley not been a clergyman, 
George Eliot forgotten to philosophise ! England, however, 
can certainly boast of having produced one prose author 
who has religiously followed Flaubert"'s canons of art with 
complete success. Robert Louis Stevenson''s New Arabian 
Nights are irresistible, and their attraction is so obviously 
independent of their subject-matter that we are forced to 
admit that never was the story-telling art, as an art, carried 
to higher perfection. 

One other aspect of ' Art for Art's sake ' deserves a 
moment's attention, and that is its commercial aspect ; 
naturally neither Flaubert nor Bouilhet would hear of 
writing with one eye on the financial profits of the work ; 
and in this relation Flaubert made a profound remark : 



248 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

' Works that are written for all time cannot expect to be 
paid for by the generation which happens to be living when 
they come into existence."' Those works are most likely to 
be highly paid for by the current generation, which hit its 
purely ephemeral conditions. 

Even a sharp contrast with the prevailing fashion may 
give a book a wholly undeserved and short-lived popularity ; 
and its author will be proportionately overpaid. On the 
other hand, there are works deliberately written with a view 
to contemporary events which prove to be immortal owing to 
the surpassing merit of their style. Will Gulliver's Travels 
ever cease to be read ? or the Clouds of Aristophanes ? 

Flaubert''s friends did not like being told that they had no 
business to think of the pecuniary profits of literature, and 
sometimes unkindly suggested that he could afford to talk in 
this way, being in the fortunate enjoyment of an independent 
fortune; but the doctrine was equally loudly upheld by 
Bouilhet, who had nothing. 

On the whole, Flaubert's dogma was a healthy one ; it 
could be misapplied, and has in more than one instance been 
abused ; but it impelled the young men to take pains, and 
mistrust the success of the feuilleton. 

On the day of Louis Bouilhet's funeral a movement was 
started to raise a fund in order to establish some permanent 
memorial of the poet in Rouen. In a very short time over 
six hundred pounds was subscribed, and an application was 
made to the Municipal Council of Rouen for leave to erect 
in some public place a fountain ornamented with the poet's 
bust. For some inscrutable reason the Councillors rejected 
the gift, and Flaubert then addressed a letter to them, 
which was published in the papers, to the horror of the 
gentle Ducamp, and probably many other quiet folk. With 
slashing logic the enraged Flaubert demolished the alleged 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 249 

reasons given by the Town Council for their action, held up 
to ridicule the verses of one of their number who had been 
so ill advised as to communicate doggerel rhymes to the 
Rouen Academy, of which he was a member, and concluded 
with an address to middle-class people in general, which is 
well worth studying and taking to heart. It was written 
after the Franco-Prussian war. 

' This affair in itself is a very small matter. But one can note 
it as a sign of the times — as a trait characteristic of your class ; 
and it is no longer to you, gentlemen, that I address myself, 
but to all middle-class folk. Then I say to them : 

' " Ye conservatives who preserve nothing," it is high time 
to tread in another path — and since the talk is of i-egeneration, 
of decentralisation, change your habits of mind ! Do at last 
have some initiative ! 

' The French nobility came to grief through having had the 
sentiments of a flunkeydom for two centuries. The end of the 
middle-class is coming, because it has those of the people. 1 
do not see that it reads other newspapers, that it treats itseh 
to other music, that it has more elevated pleasures. With 
the one as with the other there is the same love of money, the 
same respect for the accomplished fact, the same need of idols 
to destroy, the same hatred of all superiority, the same crass 
ignorance ! 

' There are seven hundred of you in the National Assembly. 
How many of those are there who can tell the names of the 
principal treaties in our history, or the dates of six kings of 
France .'' who know the first elements of political economy ? 
who have read even Bastiat ? The Municipality of Rouen, 
which has denied as a body the merit of a poet, is possibly 
ignorant of the rules of versification. And it has no need to 
know them, so long as it does not meddle with verses. 

' To be respected by what is below you, please to respect 
what is above you ! 

' Before sending the people to school, go there yourselves ! 

' Enlightened classes, seek enlightenment. Because of this 
contempt for intelligence you think yourselves full of good 



250 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

sense, positive, practical ! But one is only really practical on 
condition of being a little more so. . , . You would not be 
enjoying all the benefits of commerce if your fathers of the 
eighteenth century had had no ideal except that of material 
utility. Germany has been sufficiently joked, I presume, on the 
subject of her theorisers, her dreamers, her misty poets! You 
have seen, alas ! where her mists have brought her ! Your 
milliards have paid her for all the time that she had not wasted 
in constructing systems. I have an idea that the dreamer 
Fichte re-organised the Prussian army after Jena, and that the 
poet Koerner sent some Uhlans against us about the year 1813. 

' You, practical ! Come now ! You do not know how to 
hold either a pen or a rifle ! You allow yourselves to be 
robbed, imprisoned, murdered by mere criminals ! You have 
not even the brute instinct of self-defence, and when the ques- 
tion is not mei'ely of your skins, but of your purse, which 
should be dearer to you, energy fails you to go and put a 
bit of paper in a box ! With all your capital and all your 
sober sense, you cannot form an association equal to the 
International ! 

' Your whole intellectual effoi't consists in trembling before 
the future. 

' Bethink yourselves of something else. Rouse yourselves, or 
France will soon sink deeper and deeper into the gulf, between 
a hideous demagogy and a mindless middle-class.' 

Can this be that same French middle-class that Mr. 
Matthew Arnold was wont to hold up to Englishmen as a 
brilliant example ? 



CHAPTER XVII 

THE ' EDUCATION SENTIMENTALE ^ THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR 

LETTERS TO GEORGE SAND DEATH OF HIS MOTHER 

The Education Senthnentale had the misfortune to be pub- 
lished just when the great war was impending; other things 
were more in the minds of men than the last novel. Worse 
than that, many of the characters were recognisable under 
their disguises ; there was a silent, unconscious conspiracy to 
let the book drop unnoticed, if possible ; and the book was 
dropped. 

It is, however, not improbable that of contemporary 
novels this one will have the longest life, but not on its 
merits as a romance : it will always be deeply interesting to 
the historical student. In spite of his professed contempt 
for the popular judgment, Flaubert was hurt, amazed, un- 
settled by the cold reception given to his work. He writes 
to George Sand : — 

'Your old troubadour is mightily blackened by the press. 
Read the Constitutionnel of last Monday, the Gaulois of this 
morning; that's square and clear. I am treated as an idiot 
and a rascal. The article of Barbey d'Aurevilly is a model in 
this style, and that of the good Sarcey, although less violent, 
is not an inch behind him. These gentlemen protest in the 
name of morality and the Ideal. I have also had some gashes 
in the Figaro and in Paris by Cesena and Duranty. I don't 
care a snap ! That, however, does not prevent my being 
astounded at so much hatred and falseness. The Tribune, the 

251 



252 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

Pays, and the Opinion Nationale have in compensation highly 
extolled me. As for the friends, the persons, who have received 
a copy ornamented with my fist, they are afraid of compromis- 
ing themselves, and speak to me of something else. The honest 
fellows are scarce. None the less, the book sells well in spite 
of politics, and Levy seems to me satisfied. 

' I know that the good folk of Rouen are furious with me, 
because of old Roque and the cancan in the Tuileries. They 
think that the publication of books like that ought to be pre- 
vented (textual), that I lend a hand to the Reds, that I am 
even capable of stirring the fire of revolutionary passions, etc. 
etc. In short, up to the present I gather but few laurels, and 
no rose-leaf wounds me. 

' Sarcey has published a second article against me. 

' Barbey d' Aurevilly will have it that I defile the stream by 
washing in it (sic).' 

A year or two later Flaubert used to protest that the 
horrors of 1870, and the political chaos that followed, might 
have been averted had the French people read and under- 
stood his Education Sentimentale ; and he was right. But a 
book that requires to be understood in the way that this 
book requires understanding, is not a book that can be read 
by many. The book is, in fact, an elaborate analysis of 
Parisian upper and lower middle-class society in the middle 
of the century ; a historical study, not a romance ; the ideas 
prevalent at the period are personified, and in not a few 
cases real persons thinly disguised represent the ideas. The 
individual through Avhom we see them all, the hero of the 
romance, is probably in himself one of the least interesting 
figures in fiction. Arthur Pendennis is vapid enough, but 
Frederic Moreau is of a hundred Arthur Pendennis power. 
A man devoid of vice and virtue, unstable, heartless, whose 
chief impelling motive of action of any sort is a feeble 
flickering vanity, helped on occasionally by an equally feeble 
lustfulness, he stands out, even in the confraternity of the 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 253 

weak-kneed heroes of feminine fiction, as the most tiresome 
of male human beings. And yet how appalHngly true he 
is ! As well known in Hyde Park as on the Boulevards, in 
the Temple as in the Quartier Latin. Equally well drawn 
are a lady of worse than doubtful reputation, a rascally 
middle-class dealer of the type whose matrimonial infelicities 
have now expelled those of the aristocracy from the London 
Divorce Courts, a banker who is a politician, and one 
Deslauriers, the friend of Frederic's youth, one of those men 
' who are never so pleased as when they are urging their 
friends to do what they do not like.' 

Of action there is plenty, including all the street-fighting 
of 1848, of plot next to none, development of character 
almost as little. Still, the book is worth reading, and re- 
reading ; but it will never carry the votes of the comfortable 
middle-class folk, who believe themselves to live in the best 
of all possible worlds, and only ask of fate to be allowed to 
cultivate their gardens peaceably in the intervals of irre- 
sponsible gossip. 

The almost absolute exclusion from this book of real tender- 
ness of heart is particularly striking. Of all men, Flaubert 
must have known that disinterested affection is not an uncom- 
mon motive influencing the actions of the most unlikely 
people. No man did more for his friends, no man did more for 
his family ; there never was a man so well loved, or who loved 
so well ; and yet in a very full — an over-full — picture of 
society at a particular epoch, he deliberately omits the most 
ordinary affection. The friendship between the hero and 
Deslauriers is repeatedly ridiculed, and is helpful to neither. 
The genuine gratitude of one Dussardier, a young shopman, 
to Moreau and his friends is slurred over. Flaubert's revolt 
against optimism has been carried too far. Or may it not 
be that men's ideas were more interesting to Flaubert than 



254 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

their affections — the weaknesses of their intellects a more 
attractive subject than the sufferings of their hearts ? In 
fact, the satirist had not yet found his form. He was still 
fettered by the necessity of writing a romance, and therefore 
could not say, what was burning on his lips, in the most 
effective fashion. 

After the publication of the Education Sentimentale, 
Flaubert found some difficulty in setting to work again ; he 
missed Bouilhet profoundly. He writes to George Sand : — 

* In losing my poor Bouilhet I have lost my man-midwife ; 
the man who saw more clearly into my own thoughts than I 
saw myself. His death has left me a void which I perceive 
more plainly every day. 

' I no longer feel the need to write, because I used to write 
specially for one single being who is no more. That is the 
truth ! And yet I shall continue to write. But the taste is no 
longer there, the pre-occupation is gone. There are so few 
people who love what I love, who concern themselves with 
what I find absorbing. Do you know in this Paris, which is so 
great, one single house in which literature is talked about .'' 
And when it is incidentally approached, it is always by its 
subaltern and exterior sides, the question of success, morality, 
utility, etc. It seems to me that I am becoming a fossil, a 
being without any relation to the surrounding creation.' 

And again, writing to Edmond de Goncourt on the death 
of his brother : — 

' You wish me to speak to you of myself, my dear Edmond ? 
Well, I am giving myself up to a work which causes me great 
pain, for I am writing the preface to Bouilhet's volume. I have 
passed as lightly as possible over the biographical part. I shall 
expand more on his (or our) literary doctrines. 

' I have re-read all that he has written. I have turned over 
our old letters. I have stirred a series of reminiscences, some 
of which are thirty-seven years old ! It is not a very gay busi- 
ness, as you see. Besides, here at Croisset I am pursued by his 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 255 

phantom, which I find behmd every bush in the garden, on the 
sofa in my study, and even in my clothes, my dressing-gowns 
which he used to wear.' 

Eventually he settled down to re-write the St. Anthony^ 
which has been already described ; he had barely got to 
work when the great war broke out. 

For this period of Flauberfs life the fullest illustration is 
given by his correspondence with George Sand. He had 
begun to write to her in 1866, but the letters did not become 
very frequent till two years later ; after the death of Bouilhet 
this remarkable woman became the recipient of most of 
Flaubert's outpourings ; and his letters, truthfully reflecting, 
as they always do, the nature of his correspondent, incline 
one to think very kindly of the author of Lelia and Spiridion, 
Mr. Thackeray notwithstanding. 

Flaubert was professedly not a politician ; nothing was 
more distasteful to him than the thoughtless chatter, whether 
inside or outside of legislative assemblies, which passes for 
politics. He very nearly withdrew from the fortnightly 
dinner of literary friends at Magny's restaurant, because one 
evening had been wasted in political conversation ; none the 
less, he unconsciously studied the history of his own time 
attentively; we have just seen how he wrote a serious con- 
tribution to political history under the impression that he 
was writing a romance. The events of '70 stirred him pro- 
foundly. We, who have never known an invasion, may read 
his letters at this period with sympathy and profit. Unless 
it is otherwise indicated, the following letters were all 
written to George Sand : — 

' What is becoming of you, my dear master, of you and yours ? 
For my part, I am disheartened, utterly cast down, by the inane 
stupidity of my fellow-countrymen. The incurable barbarism 
of humanity fills me with a black melancholy. This enthusiasm, 



256 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

which has no idea as its motive force, makes me long to die, so 
as to behold it no longer. Our good Frenchman wants to fight 
— (1) because he believes himself challenged by Prussia; (2) 
because the natural state of man is savagery ; (3) because war 
contains in itself that mystic element which transports the 
masses. 

' Have we got back to the race wars ? I fear it. The fright- 
ful butchery that is being prepared has not even a pretext. It 
is the wish to fight for fighting's sake. 

' I weep over the broken bridges, the ruined tunnels, all this 
human labour wasted — in a word, such a radical negative. 

' The peace congress is wrong for the moment. Civilisation 
seems to me a long way off. Hobbes was right : Homo homini 
lupus. 

' I have begun St. Anthony, and that would go well enough 
did I not think of the war — and you ! 

' The middle-class man of these parts no longer contains him- 
self. He is of opinion that Prussia was too insolent, and wishes 
" to revenge himself" Did you see that a gentleman in the 
Chamber proposed to pillage the duchy of Baden } Ah, why 
can I not live with the Bedouins } ' 

' Wed7iesday, August 3, 1870. 

' How now, dear master ! You too demoralised — sad ? What 
is then to become of the weak } 

' My heart is oppressed in a way which amazes myself, and I 
wallow in a bottomless melancholy in spite of my work, in spite 
of the good St. Anthony, who should distract me. Is it the 
consequence of my repeated sorrows .'' Possibly. But the war 
counts for much. Meseems we are walking into blackness. 

' Here then we have the natural man. It is all over with the 
theories now ! Cry up progress, the enlightenment, the good 
sense of the masses, and the gentleness of the French people ! 
I assure you that if one took upon oneself to preach peace 
here, one would get one's head broken. Whatever may happen, 
we have gone back for a long time. 

' Perhaps the wars of races are about to begin again .-* Before 
a hundred years are out we shall see several millions of men 
massacre one another at a sitting. The whole East against the 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 257 

whole of Europe ; the old world against the new ! Why not ? 
Great united works like the Suez Canal are perhaps, under 
another form, only sketches, preparations for those monstrous 
conflicts of which we have at present no idea ! 

' Perhaps, too, Prussia is going to get a smart slap, which was 
part of the designs of Providence, to re-establish the equilibrium 
of Europe ? That country was tending to hypertrophy, like the 
France of Louis xiv. and Napoleon, The other organs were 
discommoded by it. Hence general disturbance. Formidable 
blood-lettings may possibly be salutary ? 

' Ah, we literary folk ! Humanity is far from our ideal ! and 
our immense error, our deadly error, is to think it like us, and 
to wish to treat it accordingly. 

'The respect, the fetish-worship, that is given to universal 
suffrage is more revolting to me than the infallibility of the 
Pope (which, by the way, has just missed fire finely). Do you 
think that if France, instead of being governed, in the last 
resort, by the mass, were in the power of Mandarins, we should 
be where we are ? If, instead of wishing to enlighten the lower 
classes, trouble had been taken to instruct the higher, you 
would not have seen M. de Keratry propose the pillage of the 
duchy of Baden, a measure which the public consider very 
just! 

' Do you study Prudhomme at the present epoch ? He is 
gigantic. He admires de Musset's Rhine and asks if de 
Musset has written anything else. So you see, de Musset has 
become a national poet, and is putting Beranger's nose out of 
joint. What an immense farce everything is ! But the re- 
verse of a gay farce. 

' Distress plainly declares itself. Everybody is in difficulties, 
myself to begin with. But perhaps we had become over- 
habituated to the comfortable and tranquil. We were founder- 
ing in material things. We must return to the great tradition, 
cease to cling to life, happiness, money, anything ; be what 
our grandfathers were — light, gaseous personages. 

' In other times men spent their existence in dying of hunger. 
The same perspective looms on the horizon. What you tell 
me about poor Nohant is abominable. The country here has 
suffered less than with you.' 

R 



258 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

' I went to Paris on Monday and came back again on Wed- 
nesday. Now I know the Parisian to the very bottom, and in 
my heart I have excused the most ferocious politics of 1793. 
Now I understand them. What inanity ! What ignorance ! 
What presumption ! My fellow-countrymen make me long to 
be sick. They are fit to be put in the same bag as Isidore 
(Napoleon iii.) ! 

'This people deserves to be chastised, and I fear it may 
be. . . .' 

' Here we are at the bottom of the abyss ! A dishonourable 
peace will not, perhaps, be accepted. The Prussians wish to 
destroy Paris ! It is their dream. 

' I do not think the siege of Paris is very near. But to force 
Paris to yield they are going (1) to frighten her by the appari- 
tion of cannon ; and (2) to ravage the surrounding provinces. 

' At Rouen we are expecting a visit from these gentlemen, 
and as I am (since Sunday) lieutenant of my company, I drill 
my men, and go to Rouen to take lessons in the art of war. 

'The deplorable thing is that opinions are divided, some being 
for resistance to the last, others for peace at any price. 

' I am dying of vexation. What a house mine is ! Fourteen 
persons wailing and dispiriting you. I curse women. It is 
through them that we perish. 

' I am expecting Paris to have to submit to the fate of War- 
saw, and you vex me with your enthusiasm for the Republic. 
At the moment at which we are conquered by the most absolute 
positivism, how can you still believe in phantoms ? Whatever 
happens, the people, who are now in power, will be sacrificed, 
and the Republic will follow their fate. Observe that I defend 
this poor creature of a Republic, but I don't believe in it. . . . 

' . . . This is the point to which we have been brought by the 
mania for refusing to see the truth ! By the love of sham and 
humbug. We are going to become a Poland, then a Spain. 
Then it will be Prussia's turn, who will be eaten up by Russia. 

' As for myself, I consider myself a man done for. My brain 
will not recover itself. One cannot write when one has lost 
one's self-esteem. I only ask for one thing, that is, to die 
and be quiet.' 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 259 

Extract from a letter to Edmond de Goncourt. 

' I have engaged myself as attendant at the hospital at Rouen, 
till I go to defend Lutetia, if siege is laid to her (which I don't 
believe). I feel a longing, a prurient desire to fight. Is it the 
re-appearance of the blood of my ancestors, the Natchez ? No, 
it is the explosion of the beastliness of existence. Happy are 
those, whom we regret, my poor friend ! ' 

Writing to Claudius Popelin, he says : — 

'Others are not like myself Some even support our misfor- 
tunes saucily enough. There are ready-made phrases, which con- 
sole the masses for everything : France will raise herself again ! 
why despair ? It is a wholesome chasleiiing ! etc. Oh this eternal 
humbug ! ' 

On the 29th of September 1870, in a letter to Maxima 
Ducamp, occurs the following passage : — 

'After bordering on, "grazing" madness or suicide, I am now 
completely recovei*ed. I have bought a haversack, and am ready 
for anything. I assure you this all begins to be very fine. 
This evening there arrived at Croisset four hundred mohiles 
coming to us from the Pyrenees. I have two in my house, not 
counting two at Paris ; my mother has two at Rouen, Comman- 
ville five at Paris, and two at Dieppe. I spent my time in 
drilling and night-patrol. Since last Sunday I have started 
work again, and am no longer sad. In the middle of all this 
there are, or rather have been, scenes of an exquisite grotesque- 
ness ; humanity is shown bare at such times. What afflicts me 
is the prodigious inanity with which we shall be overwhelmed 
afterwards. 

' All " gentlenesse," as Montaigne would have said, is lost for a 
long while, a new world will begin ; children will be brought 
up in the hatred of Prussia ! Military ism, the most abject posi- 
tivism, will be our lot henceforth! — unless, the powder puri- 
fying the air, we come out of it all stronger and sounder, I 
think we shall shortly be avenged by a general upheaval. 
When Prussia has the ports of Holland, Courland, and Trieste, 
England, Austria, and Russia, will have time to repent. 



260 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

William was wrong not to make peace after Sedan; our disgrace 
would have been irredeemable ; now we are beginning to 
become objects of interest. As for our immediate success, who 
knows ? The Prussian army is a marvellous machine in its pre- 
cision, but all machines get out of gear unexpectedly; a slip 
may break a spring. Our enemy has science on her side ; but 
sentiment, inspiration, despair are forces to be reckoned with. 
Victory should remain with the right, and now we are in the 
right. Yes, you speak truly ; we are paying for the long lie in 
which we have lived, for everything was sham ; sham army, 
sham politics, sham literature, sham credit, and even sham 
whores. To say the truth, it was an immoral existence. Per- 
signy reproached me all last winter with " wanting ideal " ! 
And perhaps he was in earnest. We are going to make some 
fine discoveries ; it will be a pretty story to write I Ah ! how 
humbled I am at having become a savage, for my heart is as dry 
as a stone ! Whereupon I am going to re-don my costume, and 
go and make a little military excursion in the forest of Canteleu. 
Do you think of the number of poor that we must have .'' All 
the manufactories are shut, and the workmen have neither work 
nor bread ; it will be fine this winter ! In spite of all that, — I 
may be mad, — something tells me that we shall come out of it 
all.' 

TO GEORGE SAND. 

' . . . Explain this to me ! The idea of making peace exas- 
perates me now, and I would prefer to have Paris burnt like 
Moscow rather than see the Prussians enter. But we are not at 
that point yet ; I think the wind is turning. 

' I have read some soldiers' letters which are models. A 
country in which such things are written is not swallowed up. 
France is a jade with stay in her, and will get up again.' 

Tuesday, October llth, 1870. 

' What distress ! I had at my door to-day two hundred and 
seventy-one poor people, and all were relieved ! What will it 
be in the winter ! 

' The Prussians are now within twelve hours of Rouen, and 
we have no orders, no command, no discipline, nothing, nothing ! 
We are always put off with the army of the Loire. Where is it } 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 261 

Do you know anything of it ? What is happening in the centre 
of France ? . . . 

' I do not beheve that a sadder man than myself exists in 
France ! (Everything depends upon the degree of sensitiveness.) 
I am dying of vexation. That is the truth, and consolation 
irritates me. What knocks me down is (1) human ferocity, (2) 
the conviction that we are entering upon an era of stupidity. We 
shall be utilitarian, military, American, and Catholic — very 
Catholic ! you will see. The Prussian war ends, and destroys 
the French Revolution. . . . 

' . . . What a collapse ! What a fall ! what distress ! What 
abomination ! Can one believe in progress and civilisation in 
the presence of all that is happening ? 

' What, pray, is the use of science, since this people, full of 
scientific men, commits abominations worthy of the Huns ; and 
worse than theirs, for they are systematic, cold, designed, and 
are not excused either by passion or hunger ! 

' Why do they hate us so ? Do not you feel crushed by the 
hatred of forty millions of men ? That immense, infernal gulf 
makes me giddy.' . . . 

TO MADAME REGNIER. 

'Dieppe, March lllh, 1871. 

* ... I was like Rachel, I " would not be comforted," and I 
spent my nights seated on my bed, rattling like one about to die. 
I am angry with my time for having given me the sentiments 
of a twelfth-century brute. What barbarism ! What retrogres- 
sion ! And yet I was scarcely a progressive and humanitai-ian ! 
Never mind, I had my illusions ! And I did not expect to see 
the coming of the e?id of the world. For that is where we are ; 
we are looking on at the end of the Latin world. Farewell 
then to all that we love ! Paganism, Christianity, Smuggery. 
Those are the three great evolutions of humanity. It is not 
pleasant to find one's self in the last. Ah — we are to see fine 
times ! My bile suffocates me. That is the upshot of it." . . . 

There is no exaggeration in this ; when Flaubert gave 
way at this time to his wrathful feelings he repeatedly be- 
came literally, physically sick. 



262 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

But the worst had not come yet ; the Prussian occupation 
Mas followed by the Commune. 

Neuville, near Dieppe, March 31, 1871. 

' Is it the end of humbug ? Will one be done with hollow 
metaphysics and accepted opinions ? The whole mischief comes 
from our gigantic ignorance. What should be studied, is believed 
without discussion. Instead of looking, people affirm. 

' The French Revolution must cease to be a dogma ; it must be 
brought under the kingdom of science like everything else 
human. If people had been more scientific they would not 
have believed that a mystical formula is capable of making 
armies, and that the word " Republic " is enough to conquer a 
million of disciplined men. Badinguet should have been left on 
the throne expressly to make peace, with full liberty to send 
him to the galleys afterwards. If people had been more learned 
they would have known what the volunteers of '92 were, and 
the retreat of Brunswick purchased, money down, by Danton 
and Westermann. But no ! Always the old string ! Always 
humbug ! Now we have the Paris Commune, which is returning 
to pure Middle Ages ! That is neat ! The question of rents in 
particular is splendid. The government now interferes with 
natural right; it meddles with contracts between individuals. 
The Commune declares that one does not owe one's debts, and 
that one service is not paid for by another service. It is gigan- 
tic in silliness and injustice. 

' Many Conservatives who wanted to preserve the Republic 
through love of order, are by way of regretting Badinguet, and 
in their hearts call for the Prussians. The good folk of the 
Hotel de Ville have displaced our hatreds. That is the grudge 
I owe them. It seems to me we have never been lower. 

* We are tossed about between the Society of St Vincent de 
Paul and the International. But this latter commits too many 
follies to have a long life. I admit that it may beat the troops 
from Versailles, and upset the Government ; the Prussians will 
come into Paris^ and "order will reign at Warsaw.'' If, on the 
contrary, it is beaten, the reaction will be furious, and all liberty 
stiHed. 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 263 

' What are we to say of the Sociahsts^ who imitate the pro- 
ceedings of Badinguet and WilHam ; requisitions, suppressions 
of papers, capital executions without trial, etc. ? Ah, what 
an immoral beast the people is ! And how humiliating to be 
human ! 

' Why no letters ? You have, then, not received mine sent 
from Dieppe ? Are you ill ? Are you still alive ? What does 
that mean? I certainly hope that neither you (nor any of 
yours) are at Paris, capital of the arts, hearth of civilisation, 
centre of good manners and politeness. 

' Do you know the worst of all that .'' It is that one gets used 
to it. Yes ! One puts up with it. One gets accustomed to 
doing without Paris, to thinking no more about it, and almost 
to believing that it is no longer in existence. 

' For my own part, I am not like the middle-class ; I think 
that there is no misfortune left after the invasion. The Prussian 
war has affected me like a great upheaval of nature, one of those 
cataclysms such as happen every six thousand years : while the 
insurrection of Paris is in my eyes a very clear, almost a simple 
thing. . . . 

' I reply at once to your questions on what concerns me per- 
sonally. No ! The Prussians have not sacked my habitation. 
They have prigged some little articles of no importance, a small 
dressing-case, a bandbox, some pipes ; but in the main they 
have done no harm. As for my study, it has been respected. 
I had buried a great box full of letters, and put my voluminous 
notes on St. Anthony in a safe place. All that I found 
untouched. 

' The worst of the invasion for me is that it has aged my poor 
good old mother by ten years. What a change ! She can no 
longer walk alone, and her feebleness is pitiable. How sad it 
is to see the beings one loves gradually deteriorate ! . . . 

' ... As for the Commune, which is on the way to expire, it 
is the last manifestation of the Middle Ages. The very last, let 
us hope ! 

' I hate democracy (such at least as it is understood in 
France), that is to say, the exaltation of mercy to the detri- 
ment of justice, the negation of right ; in one word, the opposite 
of society. 



264 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

' The Commune rehabilitates assassins, as Jesus pardoned 
thieves, and wealthy houses are pillaged, because people have 
learned to curse Dives {Lazarus in the original), who was not a 
bad rich man, but simply a rich man. " The Republic is above 
all discussion " is worth as much as the other faith, " The Pope 
is infallible ! " Always formulas, always gods ! 

' The last god but one, who was universal suffrage, has just 
played a terrible prank upon his worshippers in naming " the 
assassins of Versailles." Then in what must one believe ? In 
nothing ! That is the beginning of wisdom. It was time to 
rid oneself of " principles," and to enter upon science, upon 
inquiry. The only reasonable thing (I always come back to 
this) is a government of Mandarins, provided that the Man- 
darins know something, and even that they know many things. 
The people is an eternal infant, and it will always be in the last 
rank in the hierarchy of social elements, because it is the 
number, the mass, the unlimited. It matters little whether 
many peasants know how to read, and don't listen to their 
parson, but it is infinitely important that men like Renan or 
Littre should be able to live and be listened to. Our only 
salvation now is in a legitimate aristocracy ; I mean by that a 
majority which will be composed of something more than mere 
figures. 

' If people had been more enlightened, if there had been in 
Paris more people knowing history, we should not have put up 
with Gambetta, nor Prussia, nor the Commune. What did the 
Catholics do to meet a great danger } They crossed them- 
selves, recommending themselves to God and the Saints. 

' We, who are advanced, we go and cry, " Hurrah for the 
Republic! " calling up the remembrance of 1792 ; and there was 
no doubt about the success ; mark that ! The Prussian no 
longer existed. 

' We embraced one another for joy, and kept hold of one 
another, so as not to go and run to the defiles of the Argonne, 
where there are no longer defiles ; never mind, that is tradition ! 
I have a friend at Rouen, who proposed at a club the manu- 
facture oi pikes to encounter chassepots ! 

' Ah, how much more practical it would have been to keep 
Badinguet, and send him to the galleys as soon as peace was 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 265 

made ! Austria did not go into revolution after Sadowa, nor 
Italy after Novara, nor Russia after Sebastopol ! But our good 
Frenchmen hasten to pull down their house as soon as the 
chimney takes fire. . . .' 

' Croisset, Jmie 10th, 1871. 

' Never have I had a greater longing, a greater need, to see 
you than now. I come from Paris, and I do not know whom 
to speak to. I am suffocated. I am quite knocked up, or 
rather out of heart. 

' The odour of corpses disgusts me less than the miasma of 
egotism breathing from all mouths. The sight of the ruins is 
nothing in comparison with the immense Parisian inanity. 
With very rare exceptions, everybody seemed to me only fit 
for the strait-waistcoat. 

' One half of the population longs to hang the other half, 
which returns the compliment. That is clearly to be read in 
the eyes of the passers-by. 

' And the Prussians no longer exist ! They are excused and 
admired. The "men of reason" wish to get themselves 
naturalised as Germans. I assure you, it is enough to make 
one despair of the human race. . . . 

'What say you of my friend Maury, who kept the tricolor 
flying on the Archives the whole time of the Commune ? I 
think few people are capable of such a bit of pluck. . . . 

' Did you notice among the documents found at the Tuileries 

last September a plot of a romance by Isidore ? What a 

scenario ! ' 

'September 6, 1871. 

'. . . But what beats everything now is the Conservative 
party, which does not even go to vote, and which does not 
cease to tremble. You can't imagine the funk of the Parisians. 
" In six months, sir, the Commune will be established every- 
where," is the universal answer, or rather wail. 

' I do not believe in a near cataclysm, because nothing that 
has been foreseen happens. The International will perhaps 
end by triumphing, but not as it hopes, not as is feared. Ah ! 
how tired I am of the base working-man, the inept middle- 
class man, the stupid peasant, and the odious ecclesiastic ! 

' That is why, as far as I can, I lose myself in antiquity. At 



^66 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

the present moment I am making all the gods talk in their 
(lying struggle. The second title of my book might be " The 
ne plus ultra of insanity." And the typography vanishes 
further and further in my mind. Why publish .'' Who now 
cares about art .'' I make literature for my own satisfaction, 
like a middle-class man turning table-rings in a barn. You 
will tell me that it would be better to be useful. But how ? 
How get a hearing } . . .' 

'September 8, 1871. 

' . . . The idea of equality, which is all the modern demo- 
cracy, is an essentially Christian idea, and opposed to that of 
justice. See how pardon now predominates ! Sentiment is 
everything, right nothing. People are even ceasing to be 
indignant against the murderers, and the folk who set fire to 
Paris are less punished than the libeller of M. Favre. . . . 

' ... As to the good people, " free and compulsory educa- 
tion" will finish it. When everybody is able to read the Petit 
Journal and Figaro they will not read anything else ; for the 
middle-class man, the gentleman of property, reads nothing 
more. The press is a school of ignorance, because it relieves 
from thought. Say that, you will be fine ; and if you win 
conviction, you will have done a proud service. 

' The first remedy would be to be done with universal suf- 
frage, the disgrace of the human intellect. As it is constituted, 
one single element prevails to the detriment of all others ; 
number domineers over intellect, education, race, and even 
money, which is worth more than number. 

' But a society (which always has need of a kind God, of a 
Saviour) is perhaps incapable of defending itself. The Con- 
servative party has not even the instinct of the brute (for the 
brute at least knows how to fight for its lair and its victuals). 
It will be divided by the Internationals, the Jesuits of the 
future. But those of the past, who too had neither country 
nor justice, did not succeed, and the International will founder 
because it is on the wrong tack, — no ideas, nothing but con- 
cupiscence ! 

' Ah, dear good master, if you could only hate ! That is what 
you are wanting in — hatred ! In spite of your great sphinx 
eyes, you have seen the world through gold colour. It came 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 267 

from the sun of your heart ; but so many dark shadows have 
risen, that now you no longer recognise things. Come then, 
cry, thunder! Take your grand lyre and twang the brazen 
cord : the monsters will flee. Water us with the drops of the 
blood of outraged Justice. 

' Why do you feel " the great ties broken " ? What is broken ? 
Your ties are indestructible, your sympathy cannot go beyond 
the eternal, 

' Our ignorance of history makes us calumniate our own time. 
We have always been like this. Some calm years have deceived 
us. That is all. I too believed in the softening of manners. 
We must erase this error and esteem ourselves no more than 
people esteemed themselves in the time of Pericles or Shake- 
speare, atrocious epochs in which fine things were done. Tell 
me that you lift your head, and that you think of your old 
troubadour, who loves you. 

' . . . The mass, the number, is always idiotic. I have not 
many convictions, but I hold to that strongly. However, the 
mass must be respected, silly though it be, because it contains 
the germs of an incalculable fecundity. Give it liberty but not 
power. 

' I do not believe any more than you do in class distinctions. 
Castes belong to archaeology. But I believe that the poor hate 
the rich, and that the rich are afraid of the poor. That will be 
so eternally. It is useless to preach love to the one or the other. 
The most pressing task is to instruct the rich, who, in the end, 
are the stronger. Enlighten the middle-class man to begin 
with, for he knows nothing, absolutely nothing. The whole 
dream of democracy is to raise the proletarian to the level of 
the inanity of the middle-class man. The dream is partly 
accomplished. He reads the same papers, and has the same 
pastimes. . . . 

* . . . The romantics will have fine accounts to show with 
their immoral sentimentality. Do you remember a piece of 
Victor Hugo's, the Legende des Siecles, where a sultan is saved 
because he took pity on a pig ; it is always the story of the peni- 
tent thief, blessed because he repented. It is good to repent, 
but, better still, to do no wrong. . . . 

' . . . That will not change so long as universal suffrage re- 



268 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

mains what it is. Every man, in my opinion, however low he 
may be, has a right to one voice, his own, but is not the equal 
of his neighbour, who may be worth a hundred times as much. 
In an industrial concern (limited liability company) each share- 
holder votes according to the value of his contribution. So 
should it be in the government of a nation. I am quite worth 
twenty electors of Croisset. Money, intellect, and even birth, 
ought to be counted — in short, all the forces. Now, up to the 
present, I only see one, number. Ah ! dear master, you who 
have so much influence, you ought to bell the cat. . . .' 

TO MADAME ROGER DES GENETTES. 

' . . . I pledge you to read Renan's last book ; it is very 
good, that is to say, I agree with it. Have you read the letters 
of Madame Sand in the Temps ? The friend to whom they are 
addressed is myself, for we have had a political correspondence 
this summer. What I said to her is partly to be found in 
Renan's book. . . .' 

On the 6th of April 1872 Flauberfs mother died. Ten 
days afterwards he wrote a short letter to George Sand, 
concluding with these touching words : — 

' I have perceived during the last fortnight that my poor 
good old mother was the being I loved best. It is as if part 
of my very bowels had been torn from me.' It was to her 
quite as much as to literature that he had given his life ; for, 
as he had written to George Sand shortly before : ' Litera- 
ture is not the thing I love most in the world. I explained 
myself badly in my last letter. I was speaking to you of 
distractions and of nothing else. I am not such a pedant as 
to prefer phrases to beings,"* and yet this same mother had 
complained that ' the love of phrases had dried up his 
heart.' 



CHAPTER XVIII 

THE THREE SHORT STORIES ST. JULIAN THE HOSPITABLE 

The remaining eight years of Flaubert's life were spent in 
ever-increasing devotion to literary pursuits. One by one the 
friends who had understood him, who had enjoyed his tur- 
bulence, shared his enthusiasms, died off, and the void 
around him made him live more and more inside himself. 
Theophile Gauthier died early in the autumn of 1872, George 
Sand in June 1876 ; and though neither of these had ever 
belonged to the inmost circle of Flaubert's friends, their loss, 
especially the loss of the latter, was irreparable. George 
Sand's sedative nature exerted a healthy influence upon ' her 
old troubadour ' ; she made him to some extent ashamed of 
his intellectual and nervous irritability ; her sympathy did 
not, as is too often the case, stimulate the morbid inclina- 
tions of her friend. 

The cold reception of Bouilhet's posthumous poems, of 
his last play, 'Mademoiselle Aisse'; the rejection by the 
theatrical managers of a comedy unfinished by him, which 
Flaubert worked up, left our poor giant smarting and raw. 
His declamations against the ' inanity ' of his compatriots, 
and their ' hatred ' of literature, became from this period 
savage. He never forgave Levy for not pushing the sale of 
Bouilhet's Dernieres Chansons. It was through his friend, 
not through himself, that the public indifference wounded 
him, and to this we owe his ' revenge,' Bouvard et Peaichet. 

In spite of the sadness of his letters, and their occasional 

269 



270 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

ferocity, Flaubert was still outwardly the impetuous, eager 
liver of old. His irritability never degenerated into mere 
bad temper, and those who had to live intimately with him 
during the last five years of his life dwelt on his ' tenderness ' 
as the one distinguishing feature of his character. 

In 1875 M. Commanville lost all his property owing to an 
unfortunate turn in his business ; his wife, Flauberfs niece, 
the Liline of his letters, though possessed of property of her 
own, was not able, owing to the laws regulating doweries in 
Normandy, to advance her capital to her husband, and 
Flaubert spontaneously handed over all his own capital to 
the Commanvilles. Madame Roger des Genettes says of 
him, ' He gave up d£'48,000 as one gives a thousand crowns.' 
In return for this he was to live at Croisset, and be allowed 
an annual income. From this time his niece lived with him 
at Croisset, or close to him in Paris ; she sat in his study, 
and became, as Bouilhet had been, the first recipient of the 
newly-hatched phrases, the audience upon whom everything 
was tested. Thus his domestic life was not absolutely 
devoid of alleviations. Further, he found in the Russian 
TourgeniefF a calm and brotherly friend, whose gentleness of 
manner was no less pleasing to Flaubert than his accurate 
scholarship and penetrating judgment. Alphonse Daudet 
and Zola became literary, if not intimate, friends, and then 
there was the young Guy de Maupassant, nephew to Alfred 
le Poittevin, who stirred in Flaubert something of the same 
feeling which had formerly been roused by Alfred le Poittevin 
himself and Louis Bouilhet. 

To understand Flaubert it is necessary to know his friend- 
ships ; he lived in them and in his literature ; that was the 
man's whole existence outside of his family ; how he respected 
those claims we have seen. After the death of Louis Bouilhet 
Flaubert resumed more intimate relations with Ducamp ; 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 271 

everything that Avas associated with his youth became sacred 
to him as time went on, and though Ducamp evidently con- 
tinued to be in many ways irritating to him, the two men, 
the sole survivors of their generation, felt a need of one 
another. 

The literary work of these last years was first the long- 
deferred St. Aiithoni/, which after an incubation of thirty- 
five years was at last reduced to a form in which it could be 
published ; the first part of Bouvard et Pecucliet, a work 
which Flaubert regarded as the complement of the ^S*^. 
Anthony, the Trois Contes, which were written by a sudden 
inspiration in 1876, though one of them had been for many 
years in a state of gestation in Flaubert's mind ; and a 
comedy, ' The Candidate,' which was produced at the Vaude- 
ville early in 1874, and proved ' a frost,'' though it is excel- 
lent reading. The characters are too impersonal for dramatic 
effect, and do not readily lend themselves to the art of the 
actor, which is another thing from the art of the writer. 

The three stories are the epitome of Flaubert's literary 
work ; they are not printed in the order in which they were 
written, which is somewhat unfortunate, as in that one year, 
1876, Flaubert travelled over the same literary path that his 
mind had followed in the com-se of his whole life. The first 
work he planned was, as we have seen, the St. Anthony ; 
St. Julien V Hospitaller, which was the first written of the 
three stories, belongs to the epoch of lyricism ; it is a prose 
chant, reproducing the religious atmosphere of the early 
Middle Ages ; in it Flaubert makes for once happy use of 
his love for sounding names, and his intimate acquaintance 
with strange beasts and legendary monsters. 

As the excessively poetical and fantastic ^S*^. Anthony was 
succeeded by Madame Bovary, that pitiless analysis of com- 
monplace middle-class relations, so the Story of a Simple 



272 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

Soul followed St. Julien ; it is the life of a good, faithful, 
narrow-minded servant-girl, who, from the beginning to the 
end of her life, lives for and is disregarded by others. Strokes 
of savage satire abound in this short story, and perhaps 
unduly divert the attention from the pathetic tragedy which 
is the main subject. 

Then, as if to recompense himself for the self-repression of 
the Simple Soul, Flaubert sought his next subject in the 
East, just as Salammbo followed Madame Bovary, and wrote 
the story of Herodias, a short masterpiece, in which for once 
he did not allow his archaeology or his love of the grotesque 
to run away with him. 

It is much to be regretted that Flaubert did not discover 
the short prose story earlier in life ; for it is the form best 
suited to his peculiar powers. It represses automatically 
his worst fault, his tendency to be drawn away from his 
main subject by side issues, and to overload his plot with 
details interesting and amusing in themselves, but not neces- 
sary to the development of the subject, or illustrative of it 
by contrast ; it demands accuracy and refinement of work- 
manship, exactly suiting the cadenced prose of which Flaubert 
was enamoured ; while its special weakness, its tendency to 
encourage the appeal to the emotions rather than to the 
intellect, was the one literary pitfall into which Flaubert was 
physically incapable of straying. 

Of the three stories perhaps the St. Julien is the most 
characteristic, and a more detailed description of it will be 
profitable to the reader who wishes to know wherein lay 
the power which differentiates Flaubert from other powerful 
writers. 

There are at least three mediaeval saints whose lives and 
conversions are connected with the chase : St. Hubert, St. 
Eustace, and St. Julian. When our noble forefathers were 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 273 

not at war, they were hunting. The modern game-laws are 
directly descended from those stringent mediaeval regula- 
tions, which forbade to the common man the chase of certain 
animals : from those forest-laws, whose severity made the 
death of William Rufus seem to his contemporaries a judg- 
ment from heaven. A converted sportsman was as attractive 
to the mediaeval mind as the converted thief and drunkard 
to the revivalists and Salvation Army of to-day. St. Hubert 
and St. Eustace were both mighty hunters, who owed their 
salvation to the apparition of a stag bearing a golden crucifix 
between his horns. The conversion of St. Julian was effected 
in another way ; this is how it happened. 

Julian was the son of noble and devout parents, in whose 
well-fortified castle he was brought up. Soon after his birth 
his mother had a vision, in which an aged hermit announced 
to her that her son would be a saint ; at the same time a 
mendicant mysteriously muttered to his father : ' Thy son — 
much blood ! — much glory ! — always fortimate, an emperor's 
family.' The boy was educated in accordance with the 
prospect of the double destiny ; his mother provided him 
with monks to instruct him in religion, his father with 
men-at-arms and huntsmen. 

' One day during mass, on lifting his head he perceived a 
little white mouse coming out of a hole in the wall. It tripped 
upon the first step of the altar, and after two or three turns to 
the right and left ran away on the same side. The Sunday 
following he was disturbed by the idea that he might see it 
again. It came back ; and every Sunday he awaited it, was 
annoyed by it, was filled with hatred and resolved to do away 
with it. 

' Then having closed the door and scattered some crumbs of 
a cake on the steps, he posted himself before the hole with a 
wand in his hand. 

'After a very long time the pink nose appeared, then the 
whole mouse. He struck a light blow, and stood astounded 

s 



274 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

before this little body which had ceased to move. A drop of 
blood stained the flags. He quickly wiped it away with his 
sleeve, threw the mouse outside, and told nobody.' 

From this time onward Julian was possessed with a rage 
for killing. His father gave him a pack of homids ; all the 
instruments of mediaeval sport ; but Julian preferred to 
hunt by himself with his horse and his hawk, or his dogs. 
He spent long days in the chase, and ' came back in the 
middle of the night covered with gore and mud, with thorns 
in his hair, and with the odour of wild beasts upon him. 
He became like them. When his mother kissed him he 
would accept her embrace coldly, seeming to dream of deep 
things. "" 

One day, having wandered far from home into a wild 
country, he entered an avenue of great trees like a triumphal 
arch at the entrance of a forest ; animals of all kinds 
swarmed around him, and he slew them all ; at last, crowded 
in a narrow alley, he discovered an immense herd of deer ; 
they all fell before the bolts of his cross-bow. Night 
came on. 

' Julian leaned against a tree. He contemplated with wide 
eyes the enormity of the massacre, not understanding how he 
had been able to slay so much. 

' On the other side of the valley, on the edge of the forest, 
he perceived a stag, a hind, and her fawn. 

' The stag, which was black and huge in size, carried sixteen 
points and had a white beard. The hind, golden as dead 
leaves, cropped the grass ; and the spotted fawn, without 
hindering her course, tugged at her teats. 

' The cross-bow twanged once more. The fawn was killed 
at once. Then its mother, looking to heaven, cried with a 
deep, rending human voice, Julian, furious, stretched her on 
the ground with a shot full in the breast. 

' The great stag had seen, bounded. Julian despatched his 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 275 

last arrow at him. It hit him in the forehead^ and stayed 
there. 

' The great stag seemed not to feel it ; striding over the 
dead he kept advancing, was going to rush upon him, tear him ; 
and Julian retreated in an inexpressible terror. The monstrous 
animal stopped, and with flaming eyes, reverend as a patriarch, 
and like a judge, three times repeated, while there sounded the 
toll of a distant bell : " Accm-sed ! Accursed ! Accursed ! One 
day, savage heai*t, thou shalt slay thy father and thy mother ! " 
He bent his knees, gently closed his eyelids, and died.' 

Horror seized Julian ; he made his way home possessed 
with apprehension and dread ; two accidents which seemed 
likely to bring about the fulfilment of the prophecy so 
alarmed him that he fled from home. 

Julian joined a troop of soldiers of fortune; soon he 
became their leader ; his fame spread through the world, 
he gathered together an army. 

* Turn by turn he aided the Dauphin of France, and the King 
of England, the Templars of Jerusalem, the Surena of the 
Parthians, the Negus of Abyssinia, and the Emperor of Calicut. 
He fought Scandinavians covered with fish-scales, negroes with 
targets of hippopotamus leather, and mounted on red asses, 
Indians coloured like gold, and brandishing over their diadems 
broad sabres brighter than mirrors. He conquered the Troglo- 
dytes and the Anthropophagi. He crossed countries so scorch- 
ing that the hair took fire of itself under the burning sun, like 
a torch ; and others which were so dry that the arms dropping 
from the body fell to the ground ; and lands where there was 
so much mist that one walked surrounded by phantoms.' 

Eventually he rendered such a service to the Emperor of 
Occitania that he gave him his daughter in marriage. 

Julian forswore the chase as being likely to bring down 
the curse, though his dreams were haunted by strange 
animals, and he became so melancholy that his wife inquired 

and learned the reason of his sorrows. She encouraeed him 

o 



276 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

to resume his old amusement; his parents must by this 
time be dead. 

One night JuHan was disturbed in his prayers by the 
barking of a fox under the window ; he heard light steps ; 
he looked out and seemed to see the forms of animals in 
the dusk. 

The temptation was too strong ; he took down his quiver 
from the peg and went out. 

He had scarcely gone before an old man and an old woman 
arrived at the castle bent with years and fatigue ; they were 
his father and mother, who had been seeking their son for 
years through the world. The Princess accepted their proofs, 
waited on them, laid them to sleep in her own bed. 

Meanwhile Julian had wandered far ; the beasts which 
had disturbed him were gone ; he entered a forest ; then a 
plain ; then sandhills ; and at last he came to a high table- 
land, which was a place of tombs. Hyaenas came round 
him, and then fled from him. In a ravine he found a bull ; 
his spear broke upon it, as though the animal had been of 
bronze. Filled with shame he re-entered the forest ; it was 
full of the eyes of animals, which watched him ; he shot at 
them in vain ; became furious with rage, turned homewards ; 
then all the beasts formed a circle round him ; he pressed 
forward ; they made way, then followed him ; crowded on 
his footsteps ; they seemed to ridicule him, to be certain of 
some vengeance. 

At last the cock crew ; day broke ; and he recognised the 
roof of the palace above the orange-trees. 

' Then at the edge of a field he saw, only three steps off, some 
red-legged partridges fluttering in the stubble. He unclasped 
his mantle, flung it over them like a net ; when he uncovered 
them he found only one ; and it had been long dead, rotten. 

' This deception exasperated him more than all the others. 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 277 

His thirst for carnage came upon him again ; beasts failing him, 
he would have liked to massacre men/ 

Returning to his palace, and entering his own chamber, 
he saw two forms on the bed ; one was a bearded man ; 
filled with a furious jealousy, he slew both. The curse was 
accomplished. 

The next day Julian fled from the palace after exhorting 
his wife to pray for his soul. 

He begged his way over the world ; when he told his 
story all fled from him ; even the animals avoided him. 

' He sought the solitudes. But the wind brought to his ear 
sounds like the death-rattle ; the dew tears dropping on the 
ground reminded him of other drops of heavier weight. The 
sun every evening spread blood upon the clouds ; and every 
night his crime was renewed in his dreams.' 

At last he came to a river where there was a ford so 
dangerous that for a long Avhile no one had dared to cross. 
An old boat lay half-buried in the mud among the reeds. 
Julian discovered a pair of oars in it, and the idea occurred 
to him to spend his existence in the service of others. 

He built with his hands two piers on either strand, 
repaired the boat, and made himself a little hut on the 
shore with dried mud and stems of trees. 

Thus he lived for long, tortured by the heat of the day, by 
the cold of the night, by the bites of poisonous insects, living 
on the alms grudged by those whom he ferried over the water. 

' One night, when he was sleeping, he thought he heard 
some one call. He listened and could only hear the roaring of 
the waves. 

' But the same voice repeated " Julian." It came from the 
other side, which, considering the breadth of the river, seemed 
to him marvellous. 

'A third time there was a call, "Julian." And this deep voice 
had the tone of a minster bell. 

'Having lighted his lantern he went out of the hut. A 



278 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

furious hurricane filled the night. The darkness was deep, 
here and there rent by the whiteness of leaping waves. 

' After a moment's hesitation Julian untied the rope. Im- 
mediately the water became calm, the craft glided over it and 
touched the other bank, where a man was waiting. 

' He was wrapped in a ragged cloth, his face like a plaster 
mask, and his eyes redder than coals of fire. On placing the 
lantern near him Julian perceived that he was covered with a 
hideous leprosy ; still there was in his attitude as it were a 
king's majesty. 

' As soon as he entered the boat, it sank prodigiously, 
crushed beneath his weight ; it rose with a jerk, and Julian 
began to row. 

' At each stroke of the oar the surging waves lifted it in 
front. The water, blacker than ink, coursed furiously past the 
gunwales, it sank into bottomless hollows, lifted itself into 
mountains ; and the shallop leapt over them, then plunged 
into depths, where it revolved, the sport of the winds. 

'Julian flung himself forward, straightened his arms, and 
making a buttress of his legs and feet, thrust himself back with 
a convulsive motion of the body to increase his strength. The 
hail lashed his hands, the rain poured down his back, the force 
of the wind strangled him ; he stopped. Then the boat drifted 
away down stream. But understanding that he had to do with 
something out of the ordinary, with an order which he could not 
fail to obey, he took up the oars again ; and the regular beat of 
the rowlocks broke the howling of the storm. 

' The little lantern burned in front of him. Birds fluttering 
past hid it from time to time. But he never ceased to see the 
eyeballs of the leper who stood in the stern, immoveable as 
a column. That lasted a long while, a very long while ! 

' When they had reached the hut Julian closed the door, 
and he saw him seated on the stool. The kind of shroud that 
covered him had fallen to his hips ; and his shoulders, his chest, 
his thin arms were barely to be seen under folds of scaly pustules. 
Enormous wrinkles fuiTowed his forehead. He had a hole in 
the place of his nose, like a skeleton ; and his blue lips gave 
forth a putrid breath, thick like a mist. 

' " I am hungry ! " he said. 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 279 

' Julian gave him what he possessed — an old scrap of bacon, 
and the crusts of a black loaf, 

' When he had devoured them, the table, the dish, and the 
handle of the knife had the same patches that wei'e to be seen 
on his body. 

■ Then he said, " I am thirsty ! " 

' Julian went to fetch his pitcher ; and as he took it there 
came a scent from it which opened his heart and his nostrils. 
It was wine ; what a windfall ! But the leper stretched out his 
arm, and at one gulp emptied the jug, 

' Then he said, " I am cold ! " 

' Julian lit a bundle of brushwood in the middle of the cabin 
with his taper. 

' The leper came to warm himself by it ; and squatting on 
his heels, he trembled in all his limbs, sank ; his eyes no longer 
burned, his sores flowed, and in an almost inaudible voice he 
murmured, " Thy bed ! " 

' Julian gently helped him to drag himself to it, and, to cover 
him, even stretched the sail of his boat over him. 

' The leper moaned. In the corners of his mouth his teeth 
gleamed, a rapid rattle shook his chest, and at each breath his 
belly sank to his back-bone. 

' Then he closed his eyes. 

' " I have, as it were, ice in my veins ! Come and lie 
by me ! " 

' And Julian, drawing back the sail, lay close to him on the 
dead leaves, side by side. 

' The leper turned his head. 

' " Take off thy garments, that I may enjoy the warmth of 
thy body !" 

'Julian took off his clothing; then, naked as on the day of 
his birth, he took his place again in the bed, and he felt the 
skin of the leper against his thigh colder than a serpent, and 
rougher than a file. 

' He tried to comfort him, and the other replied, gasping : 

' " Alas, I am going to die ! Come near me, warm me ! Not 
with thy hands ! But with thy whole body." 

' Julian stretched himself entirely over him, mouth to mouth, 
breast to breast. 



280 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

' Then the leper strained him to his heart ; and his eyes sud- 
denly took the brightness of stars ; his hair spread out like the 
rays of the sun ; the breath of his nostrils became as the sweet- 
ness of roses ; a cloud of incense floated up from the hearth ; 
the waves began to sing. A hugeness of delight, a joy more 
than human, descended like a flood into the soul of Julian in 
his ecstasy ; and he, whose arms enfolded him, was growing, 
growing, touching the one wall of the cabin with his head, with 
his feet the other. The roof was lifted off", the firmament 
unfolded : and Julian rose into the blue depths, face to face 
with our Lord Jesus Christ, who was carrying him to heaven. 

* That is the story of St. Julian the Hospitable, such nearly as 
it is to be found on a stained-glass window in my own country.' 

As the St. Anthony was suggested by Breughel's picture 
at Genoa, so a window in the cathedral at Rouen was the 
germ of this legend ; which is written with the fullest 
realisation of the mental condition of the Middle Ages, 
when the map of the world was not, and fabulous monsters 
and equally fabulous monarchs were the food of the every- 
day imagination. Once or twice the irrepressible satirical 
tendency asserts itself, but not so as to jar, and for once 
Flaubert's prodigious learning is skilfully used, skilfully, 
because it is necessary to reproduce the mediaeval atmo- 
sphere ; and though Maxime Ducamp derides Flaubert for 
having read all the ancient books of venery in order to 
write a page or two of this story, the laboui" was not wasted. 
The tale would have sold as well, would possibly have been 
read more, had its author been content to be superficial ; 
but then it would not have shown, as it assuredly does show, 
' the lion's claw.' 



CHAPTER XIX 

LETfERS TO GEORGE SAND HER DEATH 

During these last eight years there are many bright pas- 
sages in the letters, and many suggestive passages in spite of 
the prevailing tone of melancholy or irritation. Flaubert 
tells George Sand, on the 12th of July 1872, ' I have just 
read Dickens''s Pickwick. Do you know it ? There are 
superb passages in it ; but what a defective composition ! 
All the English writers have this fault, except Walter Scott ; 
they want plan. That is unendurable to us Latins.'' We 
may be prepared to pocket our national pride and accept the 
indictment, but what an exception ! — Walter Scott, who 
began Guy Mannering with one intention and ended it in 
another sense, without taking the trouble to change the 
beginning ; who incorporated in his later novels stories heard 
over the wine the evening before ! 

It was at this time that Flaubert began to write to 
George Sand under the name of the Pere Cruchard (Juggins 
again), Director of the Ladies of Disillusion. 

There are some striking passages in a letter written in 
October 1872 to George Sand on the occasion of the death 
of Theophile Gauthier : — 

* . . . Although foreseen, the death of poor Theo has over- 
whelmed me. He is the last of my intimate friends to depart. 
He closes the list. Whom shall I see now when I go to Paris } 

281 



282 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

with whom talk of what interests me ? I know some thinkers, 
at least people who are styled such, but an artist ! Where is 
there one ? 

' I tell you that he died of the modern " carrion." That was 
his own phrase ; and he repeated it a thousand times to me this 
winter : " I am dying of the commune." 

' The fourth of September inaugurated an order of things in 
which people such as he have no longer any place in the world. 
One must not ask orange-trees for apples. The artists in luxury 
are superfluous in a society in which the people is dominant. 

* How I regret him ! He and Bouilhet are absolutely want- 
ing to me, and nothing can replace them. He was so good too, 
and whatever people may say, so simple. Later on it will be 
recognised, if people ever come back to concei*n themselves 
with literature, that he was a gi'eat poet. Meanwhile he is a 
totally unknown author. So is Pierre Corneille. 

' He had two hatreds : the hatred of shopkeepers in his youth, 
that gave him talent ; the hatred of the cad in his mature age, 
that last killed him. He died of suppressed fury, of wrath at 
not being able to say what he thought. He was swept down 
by Girardin, Fould, Dalloz, and by the first Republic (1848). I 
tell you that because / have seen abominable things, and because 
I am perhaps the only man to whom he imparted his confid- 
ences in full. He was wanting in what is the most important 
thing in life for one's self and for others, character. To have 
missed the Academy was to him a terrible grief. What feeble- 
ness ! How little he must have thought of himself! The 
quest of any honour whatever seems to me, moreover, an act of 
incomprehensible modesty.' 

Theophile Gauthier was a poor man, and had to support 
a large family as best he could by journalism; he did not 
always find it easy to accommodate himself to the taste of 
his editors. His private life was irreproachable, but it is 
difficult to forgive him such work as Mademoiselle de 
Maupin. 

George Sand at this time frequently urged Flaubert to 
marry ; his answer was generally to the same effect : — 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 283 

' As for living with a wife, marrying, as you advise me, the 
prospect seems to me fantastic. Why ? I am sure I don't 
know. But that is how it is. Explain the problem. The 
feminine has never been dove-tailed into my existence ; and 
then I am not rich enough, and then, and then ... I am too 
old . . . and then too decent to inflict my person on another 
to all eternity. There is an ecclesiastical basis in me which is 
not recognised.' 

Two years later he writes : — 

* What you say to me of your dear little ones has moved me 
to the bottom of my soul ! Why is that not mine ? Yet I was 
born with the capacity for all tenderness. But one does not 
make one's destiny, one submits to it. I was a coward in my 
youth, / 7vas afraid of life ! Everything gets its reward.' 

Flaubert on other rare occasions alluded to his 'fear of 
life,"* and this has been understood as a reference to his 
epileptic tendency ; but there is no occasion to restrict the 
significance of the remark. There are men who shrink from 
marriage, not from a want of tenderness, but from an excess ; 
who have too vivid an imagination for its responsibilities, 
who cannot face the interference with other ties, the probable 
interruption to pursuits and pleasures, to what they believe 
to be the serious business of their lives. We have not all 
of us the happy hardness of Hotspur, and his contemptuous 
indifference to his wife's anxieties. 

The first mention of Guy de Maupassant, who was born 
just before Flauberfs return from his eighteen months of 
Eastern travel, is in a letter to de Maupassant's mother, 
dated October 30th, 1872 : ' Your son is right to love me, 
for I feel a real friendship for him. He is intellectual, well 
read, charming, and then he is your son, he is the nephew 
of my poor Alfred.' 

Allusion has before been made to Flaubert's wrath against 



284 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

Levy the publisher ; this is how he speaks of it to George 
Sand : — 

' Do not vex yourself about Levy ! and do not let us talk any 
more about him. He is not worthy to occupy our thoughts for 
a moment. He has wounded me deeply in a sensitive place — 
the memory of my poor Bouilhet ! That is irreparable. I am 
not a Christian^ and the hypocrisy of pardon is impossible to me. 
I have only not to have anything to do with him again. That 
is all. I even wish never to set eyes on him more. Amen. 

' Do not take the exaggerations of my furibundity too seriously. 
Do not go and think that I " count on posterity to avenge me 
for the indifference of my contemporaries.'' 

' All I intended to say was this : when a man does not address 
himself to the crowd, it is only just that the crowd should not 
pay him. That is political economy. Now I maintain that a 
work of art (worthy of that name, and executed with conscience) 
is beyond valuation, has no commercial value, cannot be paid 
for. Conclusion — if the artist has no private income, he must 
die of hunger ! People think that the writer, because he no 
longer receives a pension from the great, is much more free, 
more noble. His whole social nobility now consists in not being 
the equal of a grocer. What an advance ! As for me, you tell 
me : " Let us be logical," but that is just the difficulty. 

' I am not at all sure of writing good things, or that the book 
I am now thinking of (Bouvard et Pecuchel) can be well done ; 
which, however, does not prevent me from undertaking it. I 
think that the idea of it is original ; no more than that. And 
then, as I hope to spit into it the bile which is choking me, 
that is to say, to emit some truths, I hope in this way to purge 
myself, and be more Olympian afterwards, a quality in which I 
am absolutely deficient. Ah ! How I would like to admire 
myself ! ' 

The work of collecting facts for Bouvard et Peciichet went 
on steadily in spite of failing health and other interruptions ; 
at one time Flaubert was reading chemistry, at another 
agricultural hand-books, medicine, political philosophy, etc. 
etc., and still found time to laugh at himself occasionally : — 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 285 

' If my frightful cold goes on^ my stay here (in Paris) will be 
useless ! Am I going to become like that Canon of Poitiers of 
whom Montaigne speaks, who for thirty years had not gone out 
of his room " by reason of the incommodity of his melancholy," 
and who none the less was in excellent health, " save for a 
rheum, which had fallen upon his stomach." ... In the matter 
of reading I have just swallowed the whole of the odious Joseph 
de Maistre. Surely that gentleman has been pretty fairly in- 
flicted upon us ; and to think of the modern socialists who have 
preached him up ! beginning with the Saint Simonians, and 
ending with A. Comte. France is drunk with authority, what- 
ever one may say. Here is a fine idea that I find in Raspail : 
the doctors ought to be magistrates in order that they may be able 
to force, etc., etc' 

Writing to Madame Roger des Genettes, he says of 
George Sand that she is 'an excellent woman, but too 
angelical, too benedictory,'' and again protests against the 
sacrifice of justice to mercy : — 

'Talking of justice, I have recently paid my lord Levy three 
thousand francs out of my own pocket for the Demiei-es 
Chaiisons ; and the said child of Jacob has just been decorated. 
God of the Jews, thou conquerest ! 

' You will think this very childish, but I have taken off my 
Star, I no longer wear the Cross of the Legion of Honour, and 
I have begged one of our common friends to invite me to dinner 
with Jules Simon in order that I may howl at His Excellency 
over this matter. And this will come to pass. I always keep 
the promises that I make to myself.' 

To George Sand, from Croisset : — 

' I am not like M. de Vigny ; I do not like the sound of the 
horn from the depths of the wood. For two hours an idiot 
planted in the island opposite me has been doing me to death 
with his instrument. The abominable wretch spoils the sun- 
shine for me, and deprives me of the pleasure of tasting the 
summer, for it is glorious weather now, but I am bursting with 



286 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

rage. However, I would like to have a little chat with you, 
dear master. 

' And first, all hail ! your seventieth year, which seems to me 
more robust than the twentieth of another ! What an Herculean 
constitution you have ! To bathe in a frozen river is a proof of 
strength which simply flattens me, and is the indication of a 
fund of health comforting to your friends. Live long ! Take 
case of yourself for the sake of your dear little girls, for good 
Maurice, for me too, for everybody, and I would add for litera- 
ture, were I not afraid of your proud disdain. 

* There now ! Good ! the horn again. It 's maddening. I 
long to go and fetch the policeman. 

' No, I do not share your disdain, and I am perfectly ignorant 
of what you call " the pleasure of doing nothing." As soon as 
I have no longer a book on hand, or am not thinking of writing 
one, I am seized by a boredom which makes me shout. In a 
word, life seems to me tolerable only when one juggles it away. 
Or perhaps one should give one's self up to disorderly pleasures 
. . . and then ! 

' . . . He seems to be quieting down. I breathe again.' 

On another occasion Flaubert begs a friend to travel with 
him, because he was so bored by having nothing to do alone 
in the carriage ; ' the other passengers think there is a dog 
in trouble in the train, but it is only M. Gustave Flaubert 
relieving his feelings."* 

The necessity of submitting ' The Candidate ' to the censure 
elicited the following axiom : ' All governments hate litera- 
ture, power does not like another power."" 

' The Candidate "* failed on the stage ; ' it was a frost, if 
ever there was one"'^ Flaubert was really much cast down, 
but wrote to George Sand after the first representation : — 

' As for Cruchard, he is calm, very calm ! He had dined well 
before the performance, and supped still better afterwards. 
Menu, two dozen Ostend oysters, a bottle of champagne iced, 
three slices of roast beef, a truffle salad, coffee, and brandy 
thereto. His religion and his stomach sustain Cruchard.' 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 287 

He was still more annoyed by the critics than by failure. 

' Villemessant reproaches me for not having got myself killed 
by the Prussians. It is enough to make one sick. And you 
wish me not to notice human folly, and to deprive myself of the 
pleasure of depicting it. But the comic is the sohtary consola- 
tion of virtue.' 

The excitement of bringing out ' The Candidate ' told 
severely on Flaubert's nerves, and he consulted a doctor, who 
recommended a Swiss town. 

' Did I tell you that I should go this summer and set up my 
nerves at Saint Moritz .'' It is in accordance with the advice of 
Dr. Hardy, who calls me an hysterical old woman, " Doctor," 
I said to him, " you are perfectly right." 

' The good folk of Rouen, my brother included, spoke to me 
of the failure of "The Candidate " in a hushed voice, and with an 
air of contrition, as if I had gone through the assizes for a for- 
gery. Not to succeed is a crime, and success is the criterion of 
good. I think this grotesque to the last degree. Explain to me 
why mattresses are spread under some falls, and thorns under 
others ? (This particular letter is signed R. P. Cruchard. More 
Cruchard than ever.) I feel myself doting, flabby, worn-out, 
sheik, deliquescent, lastly calm and controlled, which is perhaps 
the concluding term of decadence.' 

Flaubert's last work was begun early in August 1874. 
On the 28th of July he writes to Guy de Maupassant : ' I 
shall be back at Croisset on Friday evening, and on Saturday 
I begin Bouvard et Pecuchet ! I tremble before it, as on the 
eve of embarking on a journey round the world.' Six years 
later the book was still being written ; and no wonder ! 
Flaubert read and annotated fifteen hundred volumes in 
order to produce the four hundred octavo pages which he 
had all but completed when he died. The hard work told 
on him severely from the beginning; and then he was no 



288 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

longer free from pecuniary anxieties after his generous emu- 
lation of King Lear. 

In the spring of 1875 he says to George Sand : — 

' The reason why I so rarely write to you now, is that I do not 
wish to bore you with my complaints ; for nobody has a stronger 
conviction than myself of my own insupportability. . . . 

' . . . I send kisses to you all, above all to you, dear master, 
so great, so strong, so gentle. Your Cruchard more and more 
cracked, if cracked is the right word, for I feel my contents 
escaping.' 

Writing to Zola in August 1875 he says, after announcing 
the commercial failure of M. Commanville, but not mention- 
ing his own generosity : — 

* My existence is now completely upset ; I shall always have 
something to live upon, but imder other conditions. As for 
literature I am incapable of any work. In about four months 
(during which we have been in hellish anxiety) I have written 
fourteen pages in all, and those bad ones. My poor brain will 
not stand such a blow. That seems to me quite clear.' 

But in three months' time he was at work on the short 
stories. 

His last letter to George Sand was written in the year of 
her death, but is only dated ' Sunday evening, 1876 "* ; it is 
chiefly concerned with a review of her story Flamarande. 
He expresses strongly in it one of his favourite axioms : — 

' As for letting my personal opinion of the characters that I 
bring on to the stage be seen ; no, no — a thousand times no ! I 
do not recognise my right to do so. If the reader does not 
draw from a book the morality that ought to be in it, the reason 
is that the reader is a fool, or the book is false in the point of 
accuracy. For the moment a thing is true it is good. Obscene 
books even are only immoral because they want truth. Things 
do not go on in that way in life. And observe that I hate what 
it is agreed to call realism, although I am made one of its 
pontiffs ; settle that for me.' 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 289 

On the 19th of June 1876, writing to Madame Roger des 
Genettes, he says, after describing the plot of ' A Simple 
Soul ' :— 

' The story is by no means ironical^ as you suppose, but on the 
contrary very serious, and very sad. I wish to stir compassion, 
to make sensitive souls weep, being one myself. Alas ! Yes ! 
last Saturday at the funeral of George Sand I broke out into 
sobs, on kissing little Aurora, and then on seeing the coffin of 
my old friend.' 



CHAPTER XX 

LETTERS TO GUY DE MAUPASSANT AND OTHERS 

In October of this year Flaubert had a great treat, a visit 
from his old friend Mrs. Tennant, the Gertrude Collier of the 
Trouville days ; and he continued to correspond with her to 
the end of his life. Afterwards he wrote to her : — 

' How I long to see you ! What a number of things I 
should have to tell you, sitting alone with you over the fire ! 
Do you know what I call you in my innermost heart, when I 
think of you (and it often happens) .'' I call you "my youth." ' 

Madame Roger des Genettes was his correspondent-in- 
chief at this time ; but his letters even to her have less and 
less of the old personal touch ; there is a great deal more of 
criticism upon contemporary literature, and less of the old 
humour. Occasionally we have such outbursts as : ' The 
inanity of mankind does actually so overwhelm me that I 
feel like a fly with the Himalayas on its back. Never mind. 
I will try to spue out my venom into my book. This hope 
comforts me.' 

Many of the letters are filled with requests for detailed 
information on some geographical or historical fact likely to 
be useful to Bouvard et Pecuchet ; Flauberfs sensitiveness of 
conscience on the question of accuracy increasing rather than 
diminishing with age. And meanwhile the ' indignation of 
St. Polycarp ' also increased rather than diminished : — 

* Anacharsis Cloots used to say : "I belong to the party of in- 
dignation." I am getting to resemble him ; don't you think so ? 

290 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 291 

He was for the rest a queer fellow, and I have a weakness for 
him. When he was guillotined he wished to pass after his com- 
panions, in order to have time to confirm certain principles ! 
What principles ? I have no idea whatever, but I admire this 
fancy. 

' Here are two verses recently brought into the world by an 
Academician of Rouen, which I think splendid : 

" We always are happy, to deny it 's no good. 
When we see ourselves first in our own neighbourhood." ' 

The author of this beautiful couplet was no less a person 
than M. Decorde, the poetical member of the Town Council 
of Rouen, who found that Louis Bouilhet was not great 
enough to be honoured with a monument. Flaubert says, 
writing to Guy de Maupassant : — 

' What do you say of these two verses, my boy ? I beg you 
to meditate upon them carefully ; then to declaim them with 
the appropriate emphasis, and you will spend a good quarter of 
an hour.' 

The rest of this same letter contains some good advice : — 

'You complain of women who are "monotonous." The 
remedy is very simple, — do without them. " Events have no 
variety." That is a realistic complaint, and besides, what do you 
know about it .'' Perhaps you might look into them a little 
more closely. Have you ever believed in the existence of 
things ? Is not everything an illusion } There is nothing true 
but " relations," that is to say the fashion in which we perceive 
objects. "Vices are shabby," but everything is shabby! 
" There are not sufficient turns of phrase." Look for them and 
you will find them. 

' Lastly, my dear friend, you have to me the air of being 
thoroughly bored, and your boredom afflicts me, for you might 
employ your time more profitably. You must — do you hear, 
young man? — you imist work more than that. I begin to have an 
idea that you are not very seriously hard-handed. Too many 
wenches, too much rowing, too much exercise ! Yes, sir ! The 
civilised man has not such a great need of locomotion as our 



292 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

friends the doctors insist. You were born to make verses; 
make them. "All the rest is vanity," to begin with, your 
pleasures, and your health ; there — stuff that into your nut. 
Besides, your health will be all the better if you follow your 
vocation. This remark is of profound philosophy, or rather 
hygiene. . . . 

' ... In a word, my dear Guy, beware of sadness. It is a 
vice ; one takes a pleasure in being dismal, and when the dis- 
mal fit is over, as it has used up precious forces, one remains 
dulled by it. Then, one is sorry for it ; but it is too late. 
Trust to the experience of a sheik to whom no extravagance is 
strange.' 

Flaubert was often ready with a compliment to England : — 

' Do you read the works of Herbert Spencer } That is a 
man, and a real positivist ! A rare thing in France, whatever 
people say. Germany has nothing to compare to this thinker. 
For the rest the English seem to me enormous. Their attitude 
in the Eastern question has been superb in its impudence and 
skill.' 

Talking of Dupanloup, Flaubert says : — 

* His book upon the higher studies is of a very common 
order of intellect. He was a country parson, nothing more. 
His funeral oration upon Lamoriciere seems to have been 
written by a bagman turned verger.' 

And in fact in 1879 he recovered his spirits to some 
extent ; for example : — 

' And does not the funeral of Villemessant (editor of the 
Figaro) make you think } Embalmment, as if of a Pharaoh, mass 
said by a bishop, the station transformed into a "chapelle 
ardente," " and return of the ashes " to Paris, and the day after, 
speech, plumes, music, immense crowd, I am sure of it. He 
enjoyed "an immense publicity " : let us bow ! I never bowed^ 
I never bent my knee before that institution. 

' And Pinard, my enemy Pinard (the counsel for the prosecu- 
tion in the action against the author of Madame Bovary), the 
author of the obscene couplets found in the praying stool of 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 293 

Madame Gras, Pinard, who invented Gambetta (to do the 
Empire a good turn), — this excellent M. Pinard communicating 
last Sunday at Notre Dame in the company of his grace the 
Duke de Nemours ! Farce ! Farce ! ' 

Again we find him joking against himself in writing to 
Edmond de Goncourt : — 

' Here is my statement. My leg is better (he had broken 
it) ; however, it swells every evening, I can hardly walk more 
than a hundred yards, and I have to wear a bandage round my 
ankles. 

' Further, I have had one of my last grinders pulled out. 

' Further, I have had lumbago. 

' Further, a stye in my eye. 

'And as a matter of fact, since yesterday I rejoice in a pimple 
plump in the middle of my countenance. Apart from all that I 
am very well.' 

The reading for Bouvard et Pkuchet as a rule proved irri- 
tating : — 

' Cups of bitterness are not grudged to your old friend, and 
I am reading stupid or rather stupefying things ; the religious 
tracts of Monseigneur de Segur, the lucubrations of Pere 
Huguet, Jesuit, Bagnevalt de Puchesne, and that excellent M. 
Nicholas, who takes Wolfenhuttel for a man (because of the 
Wolfenbiittel fragments), and consequently he thunders against 
Wolfenbiittel. Modern religion is something ineffable decidedly, 
and Parfait in his Arsenal of Devotion has only skimmed the 
matter. In the Manual entitled " Pious Domestics" what do 
you say to this title for a chapter : Of modesty during great Heat ? 
Then advice to maids not to take service with actors, innkeepers, 
and vendors of obscene engravings ! Those are some flowers ; 
and the idiots declaim against Voltaire, who is a spiritualist, and 
Renan, who is a Christian. O inanity ! O infinitude ! I shall 
have some trouble in my ninth chapter. Religion, to keep my 
balance. My pious readings would make a sinner of a saint.' 

Apparently Madame Roger des Genettes, to whom these 



294 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

remarks were addressed, did not find them altogether to her 
taste, for in the next letter to her there is an explanation : — 

' You did not understand the spirit of my indignation : I am 
not astounded at people who try to explain the incomprehen- 
sible, but at those who think they have found its explanation, 
those who have " le bon Dieu," or rather " le non Dieu," in 
their pockets. Certainly — yes ! all dogmatism exasperates me. 
In short, Materialism and Spiritualism seem to me two impertin- 
ences. 

' Recently, after having read no small number of Catholic 
books, I took up the philosophy of Lefebvre — " the last word of 
science " ; it is only fit to be thrown into the same latrines. 
That is my opinion. All ignorant creatures, all humbugs, all 
idiots, who never see more than one half of a whole : and I have 
re-read (for the third time in my life) all Spinoza. That 
" atheist " was in my opinion the most religious of men, because 
he admitted nothing but God. But just try and make our 
friends the ecclesiastics and the disciples of Cousin understand 
that ! ' 

Guy de Maupassant having published some verses in a 
periodical was in danger of being prosecuted for immorality 
before the tribunal of Etampes, and further of losing the 
Government clerkship which he held. Flaubert was at once 
ready with advice, and as usual, when any person"'s business 
but his own was in question, showed no less activity than 
skill in manipulating the different personages, whose influence 
was likely to be useful in diverting the calamity from the 
devoted head of his young friend. Among other things, he 
wrote him a letter, with leave to publish it in the Gaulois, 
which as it incidentally deals with the whole question of the 
obscene in literature, is worth quoting at length : — 

'Croisset,' February 19th, 1880, 

' My dear good fellow, — Then it is true ? At first I thought 
it was a joke ! But no. I bend. Well, they are nice people 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 295 

at Etampes. Are we going to be subject to all the tribunals in 
French territory, the colonies included ? How happens it that 
a piece of verse, formerly inserted in a Parisian periodical which 
no longer exists, is prosecuted on being reproduced in a provin- 
cial journal, to which you probably never granted permission, 
and of whose existence you were doubtless ignorant ? To what 
are we forced now ? What must one write ? How must one 
publish ? In what a Bceotia do we live ? 

* Accused of" an outrage to morals and public morality," — two 
amiable synonyms, which form two counts in the accusation ! I 
had a third outrage laid to my account, " and religious morality," 
when I appeared before the eighth Chamber with Madame 
Bovary, — an action which proved a gigantic advertisement for 
me, and to which I attribute three-fourths of my success. 

' In short, I can't understand it at all ! Are you the victim of 
some personal grudge ? There is something inexplicable 
beneath it all. Are they paid to debase the Republic as cur- 
rency by making contempt and ridicule rain upon it ? I believe 
so. 

' That you should be prosecuted for a political article, good ; 
although I defy all the courts of justice to show me the practical 
utility of it. But for verses, for literature — no ; that is too strong. 

' They will reply to you that your poetry has obscene tenden- 
cies ! With the theory of tendencies one might have a sheep 
guillotined for dreaming of mutton. We should come to a 
definite understanding about this question of morality in the 
State. What is beautiful is moral, — there is the whole thing, and 
nothing more. 

* Poetry, like the sun, gilds the dunghill. So much the worse 
for those who do not see it. You have treated a commonplace 
to perfection, and you deserve laudation instead of deserving a 
fine and inprisonment. 

' " The whole talent of an author," says La Bruyere, " consists 
in defining well, and painting well." You have defined and 
painted well. What more does one want } "But the subject," 
Prudhomme will object, "the subject, sir ! Two lovers. A wash- 
tub ! The bank of a river. You should have taken a waggish 
tone, treated it more delicately, with more subtlety, marked it 



296 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

in passing with a point of elegance, and made a venerable 
ecclesiastic or a good doctor come on to the scene at the end, 
and deliver himself of a lecture upon the dangers of love. In a 
word, your story invites to the union of sexes. Ah ! " 

' In the first place, it does not invite, and even if it were so, 
in this time of amorous refinements, it is not a bad thing to 
preach the worship of women. Your poor lovers do not even 
commit an adulteiy ! They are free, both of them, " without 
obligations to anybody." Struggle as you may, the party of 
order will find arguments. Be resigned. 

' But denounce, in order that they may be suppressed, all the 
Greek and Roman classics without exception, from Aristophanes 
to Horace the good and Virgil the tender. Then, among 
foreign authors, Shakespeare, Goethe, Byron, Cervantes. 
Among ourselves, Rabelais, "from whom French literature 
springs," according to Chateaubriand, whose masterpiece turns 
upon an incest ; and then Moliere (see the rage of Bossuet 
against him) ; the great Corneille, the motive of his Theodora is 
prostitution ; and further, La Fontaine, and Voltaire, and Rous- 
seau, etc., and the fairy tales of Perrault ! What is the subject 
of Peau d'ane ! and where does the fourth act of Le Koi s amuse 
take place .-' 

' After that it will be necessary to suppress the history books, 
which soil the imagination. I choke with indignation. 

' (Who will get a surprise .'' Friend Bardoux ! He whose 
enthusiasm on reading your poem was so great that he wished 
to make your acquaintance, and soon after placed you in his 
office. Justice treats her proteges well !) 

'And that excellent Voltaire (not the man, the periodical) 
which was joking me genteelly the other day on the bee in my 
bonnet, my belief in the hatred of literature ! It is the Voltaire 
that is mistaken. More than ever I believe in the unconscious 
hatred of style. When one writes well, one has two enemies to 
face : first the public, because style forces it to think, obliges it 
to work ; second, the government, because it feels a force in us, 
and power loves not another power. 

' Government may change, monarchy, empire, republic, it 
matters little. The official aesthetics never change. In virtue 
of their place, its agents — administi-ators and magistrates — have 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 297 

the monoply of taste (see the terms of my acquittal). They 
know how one ought to write, their rhetoric is infalHble, and 
they possess the means of convincing. 

'You were rising to Olympus, your face flooded with sun- 
beams, your heart full of hope, breathing in the beautiful, the 
divine, half into lightsome heaven — and a pohceman's paw flings 
you back into the gutter ! You were conversing with the Muse, 
and you are taken for one of those who corrupt little girls. All 
perfumed with the waves of Permessus, you will be confounded 
with those gentlemen who haunt urinals for pleasure. 

' And you will take your seat, my young friend, on the felon's 
bench, and you will hear an individual read your verses (not 
without faults of prosody), and read them again, laying stress 
upon particular words to which he will give a distorted signifi- 
cance. He will repeat some of them several times, like citizen 
Pinard : " The leg, gentlemen, the leg," etc. 

' While your advocate will make a sign to you to control your- 
self — a word might ruin you, — you will vaguely feel behind you 
all the police force, all the army, all the power of the public 
weighing on your brain with an incalculable weight ; then there 
will mount into your heart a hatred which you do not suspect, 
with plans of vengeance, arrested at once by pride. 

' But, once again, it is not possible. You will not be pro- 
secuted, you will not be sentenced. There is a misunderstanding, 
a mistake, something or other. The keeper of the seals will 
intervene. 

'We are no longer in the glorious days of M. de Villele. And 
yet, who knows ? The world has its limits, but human inanity 
has no bounds.' 

In this letter there is one of Flauberfs curious slips of 
memory ; it was not the eighth but the sixth court before 
which he appeared. 

It is pleasant to see from the following letter that the 
clouds did not settle down unbroken upon Flauberfs closing 
days, and that he found in Guy de Maupassant something of 
the outlet for his tenderness, which his older friends had 
given him : — 



298 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

' My dear good fellow, — I do not yet know on what day 
Goncourt, Zola, A. Daudet, and Chai-pentier will come here to 
lunch, dine, and perhaps sleep. This very evening they are to 
come to a decision, and I shall know on Friday. I think Monday 
will be the day on which I shall receive them. Then, if your eye 
permits it, transport your person to one of the said "cocos," 
ascertain the date of their departure, and come with them. 

' Supposing all to spend Monday night at Croisset, as I have 
only four beds to offer, you will take that of the ladies' -maid, 
now absent. 

' Comment : so many inanities and improbabilities have come 
upon me in connection with your illness, that I should be much 
relieved for my own part, for my own personal satisfaction, to 
have you examined by my doctor Fortin, a mere "officier de 
sante,'' whom I consider very good, 

' Another observation : if you have not the coin to make the 
journey, I have a fine double louis at your service. A refusal 
from delicacy would be utter vulgarity in dealing with me. 

' Last string : Jules Lemaitre, to whom I have promised your 
recommendation to Graziani, will present himself at your office. 
He has talent, and is a real " literary man," rara avis, to whom 
a bigger cage should be given than Havre. 

' Perhaps he will come to Croisset on Monday ; and as it is my 
intention to make you all drunk, I have invited Fortin to lavish 
his cares on the sick. 

' The festival will miss some splendour if I do not have my 
disciple. — Your old friend.' 

Two later letters to the same person illustrate Flaubert"'s 
method in working up Bouvard et Peaichet, and the latter 
one incidentally indicates the point of view from which that 
work should be read : — 

' I have received Baudry's letter, which answers none of my 
questions. (I am beginning to ask myself whether I am mad !) 
But to make up for that he gives me advice upon the art of 
writing. " Why do you concern yourself with Botany, which 
you don't know ? You expose yourself to a mass of errors, which 
will be none the less absurd for being involuntary. There is no 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 299 

good comedy in this line of ideas except that which is premedi- 
tated ; that which the other has made in spite of himself is comic 
all the same, but quite in another way ! " etc. 

' Savour the daintiness of this raillery. Attic, is it not } 

' And he reproaches me with ranking the tuberoses among the 
liliaceae, when I have exerted myself to tell him that Jean 
Jacques Rousseau classed them thus, and he informs me that 
" in roses the ovary is hidden beneath the petals," the very phrase 
of the letter which I sent him. 

' I replied, that I begged his pardon, at the same time de- 
manding a little indulgence. Never mind. To believe me 
a prion incapable of giving a piece of information supplied by 
others, and, secondly, to judge me charlatan enough to raise a 
laugh at my own expense, is pretty hard. Study this fact ; it 
seems to me big with pyschology ; and I return to my hobby : 
"the hatred of literature." You have read 1500 volumes to 
write one. That does not matter. From the moment that you 
know how to write, you are not serious, and your friends treat 
you like a street boy. I do not conceal the fact that I think 
this " wicked." 

' I will get through with it all alone, even if I have to spend 
six years over it, for I am mad about it. But try through your 
professional friends to unearth me a botanist ; it would save me 
a lot of time. My love to you ! Your old friend in a state of 
exasperation beyond describing.' 

' No ! that is not enough, although it is already better. The 
anemones (in the family of the ranunculacese) without calyx, 
very good. But why has Jean Jacques Rousseau said (in his 
Botany), "most of the liliaceee are without it" ? This "most " 
signifies that certain liliaceae want it. The said Rousseau, not 
being a scientific man, but an observer of "nature," may per- 
haps have made a mistake ! Why and how ? In short, I must 
have an exception to the rule. I already have it with certain 
ranunculaceae, but, secondly, I want an exception to the excep- 
Jion, a piece of mischief which is suggested to me by the "most" 
of the citizen of Geneva. 

' Of course, I do not cling to any particular family, provided 
the plant is common. . . .' 



300 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

The evening before his death, Madame Commanville 
received a letter announcing the speedy conclusion of his 
book, and ending with these words : — 

' I ivas right ! I have my information from the Professor of 
Botany of the Jardin des Plantes ; and I was right, because 
eesthetic is truth, and because up to a certain intellectual point 
(when one has method) one does not make mistakes, reality does 
not bend to the ideal, but confirms it. I had to make three 
journeys into different districts to find the right setting for 
Bouvard et Pecuchet, the environment peculiar to the action. 
Ah, ah ! I triumph — that is a success, and I am flattered by it.' 

On the 8th of May 1880, as Flaubert was dressing, he fell 
down unconscious ; in a few moments he was dead ; and the 
passengers on the steamer from Rouen to la Bouille thence- 
forward looked in vain for that queer M, Flaubert, who used 
to stand in his dressing-gown at the window of the old house 
at Croisset. 



CHAPTER XXI 

' BOUVARD ET PECUCHET "* 

Flaubert died when the last chapter of the first part of Bou- 
vard et Peaicliet was but half finished ; the first third of it 
was already in its complete form, and of the remaining two- 
thirds, the skeleton, a remarkably fleshy skeleton, was already 
in existence. The notes only for the second part of the 
book, with their classification, were complete. Thus the 
work as it stands is unfinished, and has not been revised by 
its author ; still, the fragment is all but perfect in itself, and 
it is highly improbable that the second part would have 
proved equally readable with the first. 

Bouvard et Pecuchet is the work which places Flaubert 
among the gods ; if he had never written that book he might 
have been classified as a writer of strong but clumsy romances ; 
a man of great genius, but somehow ineff'ective ; a man who 
had never fomid the right form in which to deliver his message, 
or who had only found it in the form of three short stories ; 
but this book exactly suits his peculiar temperament, his 
peculiar powers ; it is as individual and distinctive as Faust 
is of Goethe, Frederick the Great of Carlyle, Henri/ IV. of 
Shakespeare, Don Quixote of Cervantes, Pantagruel of 
Rabelais. 

It is in this particular that the really great writers reveal 
themselves ; they write works which nobody else could pos- 
sibly have written. Their works may be unpleasing, full of 

301 



302 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

defects (generally of excess), more or less without form, in- 
comprehensible to the general public, unable to be squeezed 
into the shape recognised by any school of criticism, and yet, 
there they are. Generation after generation of literary 
artists goes to these works and draws some mysterious 
strength from them ; while the general public talks of them 
with respect, but never reads them. 

Such works are not unfrequently satirical in their first 
intent ; their Avritcrs have studied _^^the literature and the 
men of their day, and found them wanting ; even where a 
criticism is not stated, it is often implied. Rabelais and 
Cervantes, sometimes under disguises, sometimes openly, pour 
contempt on the opinions of their contemporaries ; Shake- 
speare abounds in parody, in demonstrations of the ineffective- 
ness of self-complacent humanity ; Carlyle''s laugh only gives 
way to his far less pleasing declamation. Again, it is the 
universally applicable satire that lives ; the satire which 
nevertheless seemed to be only of temporary application. All 
the other Greek comic poets are gone, but we still have Ai'is- 
tophanes ; and yet nothing apparently could be more local 
than his jokes. Would Plato'^s philosophy have preserved 
his works without his wit, and his endless parody on his con- 
temporaries ? Mere learning, accurate reasoning, perfection 
of method, — none of these alone or in combination are enough 
to insure the perpetuity of a deeply thoughtful work ; it 
seems as if to secure immortality the personification of ideas 
is a first necessity. Ideas change, but the human attitude 
towards them is always the same. Gorgias and Phaedrus 
will always live, because their attitude towards knowledge is 
a permanent attribute of humanity ; there will always be 
kindly, self-complacent old men believing that virtue can be 
taught, and willing to teach it ; there will always be ardent 
young men unable to distinguish between your true man 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 303 

and your windbag, and lost in admiration of the last 
University Extension lecturer that they have encountered. 
Further, it is not your mere dramatist who lives ; it is the 
dramatist who places his characters in connection Avith the 
big subjects. Tragedies and comedies of everyday life, how- 
ever well they may be written, do not make permanent im- 
pressions ; each generation makes them for itself, and prefers 
its own to any other. The world of forgotten plays ! — what 
a universe ! — from the authors of the middle and new 
comedy onwards ! And the novels of the nineteenth cen- 
tury, those that are read by Tom, Dick, and Sal — what a 
limbo for the twentieth century to peep into ! Few people 
reflect upon the vast quantity of literature that has practi- 
cally passed away, where one book has survived. A library 
is an appalling necropolis ; crowded with the dead, the dying, 
and a few semi-revivable corpses. 

The literary man is always interested in studying the 
problems of the human mind ; the intellectual difficulties of 
man always concern him. It is by the literary man pre- 
eminently that permanence is given to an author ; and so 
the permanent books are mostly books which deal with man 
in his relation to the infinite, the permanent, not the 
ephemeral problems. The more a man has learned the 
more he requires ; as his experience improves his discrimina- 
tion improves, his power of enjoyment improves, and those 
who can in all ages satisfy his educated demands, please his 
advanced taste, are the imperishable giants of literature. 

When we are very young we like hymn-tunes sung by our 
mother, and the popular airs of the barrel-organ ; the finest 
performance by Richter's orchestra of a symphony of 
Beethoven is to us an indistinguishable medley of sound ; 
but, if we have the good fortune to hear much music, the 
barrel-organ becomes unendm'able to us, the hymn valuable 



304 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

only for non-musical associations, but oh ! what a paradise 
of delight is the symphony ! 

Thus it is with literature ; the student grows to require 
better and yet better work, and to recognise it when it is 
presented to him ; all but the best seems trivial. 

So strong is our interest in the relations of man to the 
infinite that we even read an allegory into mere narrative. 
The Homeric poems were not regarded by learned Greeks 
as being only stories of fighting, or the celebration of the 
deeds of heroic ancestors ; there were those who saw in them 
as many mystic allusions as have been discovered in the 
Song of Solomon. Virgil in the Middle Ages was either a 
saint or a magician ; and it would be impossible to enumer- 
ate the works which deal with the inner significance of the 
historical books of the Hebrews. To the whole of Dante 
there is a threefold interpretation. No man has ever yet 
discovered all that lurks beneath the sui'face of the second 
part of Faust. 

Of books of this kind Bouvard et Pecuchet is perhaps the 
only one whose author"'s mind is perfectly open to us. We 
possess the key, and know that we have to do with some- 
thing more than a farcical story. 

Part I. 

Flaubert was writing Bouvard et Pecuchet all his life. We 
have seen how, in his very first letter, he proposed to a 
school-fellow to write comedies, in which would be repeated 
all the silly things that a lady who visited his father''s house 
was in the habit of saying ; and his other letters give abmi- 
dant indications of the serious view which he took of the 
inanity of his fellow-creatures. As early as 1850 he was 
contemplating a Dictionary of Accepted Opinions. 

The plot of Bouvard et Pecuchet is very simple ; two clerks, 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 305 

middle-aged men (they are each delighted to find that the 
other is forty-seven), meet accidentally and strike up a warm 
friendship. The most trivial of coincidences is the fomidation 
of their friendship ; happening to seat themselves on the 
sam_e bench on the Boulevard Bourbon, they take off their 
hats, and discover that they both have the habit of writing 
their names inside them. 

In spite of their similarity of tastes the men soon to be 
united in the bonds of warmest friendship are really dissimi- 
lar. Bouvard is stout, florid, a widower, fond of indecent 
stories, discourses cynically of women, and hitherto his chief 
friend has been one Barberou, an ex-bagman, who is expert 
in tricks with billiard-balls : Pe'cuchet, on the other hand, is 
thin ; owing to the extreme length of his nose, his face 
seems all profile ; he is a bachelor, a prig, somewhat nig- 
gardly, but of an insatiable curiosity, and up to this time 
he has chiefly admired a Professor Dumouchel, who also 
claims rank as an author, having produced a memoria technica. 

They get into the habit of walking out together, of visiting 
all the museums ; Avhen they go to the botanical gardens 
they admire the cedar, because it was brought over in a hat. 
At the library they would like to know the exact number 
of the volumes. When they see an old piece of furniture, 
they regret not having lived at the period when it was 
made, though they are absolutely ignorant of the date of 
that period. In short, they are the people for whom the 
Beefeaters at the Tower of London and the vergers of our 
Cathedrals provide information. Some of them go to Rome, 
and even further. 

As their intellects become more active, they develop an 
increasing dislike to office-work. One day Bouvard received 
a letter ; his putative uncle, really his father, has died, and 
left him ten thousand pounds ! 



306 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

For two years the friends waited, and then, when Pecuchet 
had earned his retiring pension in the Admiralty they endea- 
voured to reahse what had become the dream of their Hves. 
They bought a house and small estate in the country 
between Caen and Falaise, in a village called ChavignoUes, 
and there they settled. 

This is the environment which Flaubert sought for so 
carefully. 

On the first night of their arrival in their new home their 
very sleep was characteristic : ' Bouvard slept on his back 
with his mouth open, his head bare ; Pecuchet on his right 
side, his knees in his stomach, coddled in a cotton night-cap, 
and both snored under the moonbeams that came in through 
the windows."' 

The notables of the village were the Comte de Faverges, 
formerly a deputy, whose fatuity was quoted ; the mayor 
M. Foureau, who sold wood, plaster, all kinds of things ; the 
lawyer, M. Marescot ; the doctor, M. Vaucorbeil ; the Abbe 
Jeufroy, and the Widow Bordin, who lived on her private 
income. 

The friends at once plunged into gardening and farming ; 
with the results, which usually wait on amateurs, who derive 
their experience solely from books, and embark recklessly 
upon experiments suggested by the last faddist. They tried 
to manufacture liqueurs, all kinds of alimentary preserves ; 
their failure led them to the conclusion that they ought to 
study chemistry. 

In the person of the two friends Flaubert then begins 
his examination of the popular text-books of science. His 
method of suggesting criticism and ' the want of method 
in the acquisition of knowledge ■" is very well illustrated by 
the following quotation. It should be noted that he does 
not criticise the chemical text-book as a chemist, but as a 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 307 

person who, wishing to learn chemistry and consulting a 
text-book, finds that the text-book is either self-contra- 
dictory or gives information which is after all no informa- 
tion. And" it is in this way that he deals with all the 
sciences which are reviewed in this book : the satire being 
directed sometimes against the carelessness or ineptitude of 
the authorities ; sometimes against the attitude of mind in 
which their statements are accepted by the learner. 

' In order to learn chemistry they procured Regnault's course, 
and learned first that simple bodies are perhaps compound. 

' They are divided into metalloids and metals — a distinction 
in which there is nothing absolute, says the author. In the 
same way for acids and bases ; a body being able to behave like 
an acid or a base according to circumstances ! 

' The notation seemed fantastic to them. The multiple pro- 
portions confused Pecuchet. 

' " Since one molecule of A, I suppose, is combined with 
several particles of B, it seems to me that this molecule must 
be divided into as many particles ; but if it is divided, it ceases 
to be a unity, the primordial molecule. In short, I don't under- 
stand it." 

' " Neither do I ! " said Bouvard. 

' And they had recourse to a less difficult work, that of 
Girardin, from which they acquired the certainty that ten litres 
of air weigh ten grammes, that there is no lead in lead-pencils, 
that the diamond is nothing but carbon. 

' WTiat astonished them above all is that the earth as an 
element has no existence.' 

Getting into difficulties with their chemistry, they went to 
Vaucorbeil, the doctor, and asked for an explanation of ' the 
higher atomicity."' He did not give it ; thundered against 
the baneful influence of chemistry upon medical science. 
The sight of his diagrams suggested to Pecuchet the study 
of anatomy ; he borrowed the manual of Alexander Lauth, 
and learned the divisions of the frame. They were amazed 



308 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

at the dorsal column, ' which is sixteen times stronger than 
if the Creator had made it straight. Why precisely sixteen 
times ? ' 

They then bought a papier-mache model, wKich arrived 
from Paris in a long coffin-like box, and excited the curiosity 
of the village ; they were credited with the possession of a 
real corpse, and the mayor came in person to inspect, semi- 
officially. What 'right had they, not being physicians, to 
be in possession of such an object ? He wrote to the Pre- 
fect. Bouvard and Pecuchet derived some comfort from 
reflecting on their own superiority ; they yearned to suffer 
for science. 

Meanwhile the doctor derided them, but continued to 
lend them books. They became interested in exceptional 
developments, unusual physiological phenomena. ' Why had 
they not known that mayor of Angouleme, whose nose 
weighed three pounds ? "■ 

Anatomy naturally led to physiology ; they tried experi- 
ments to prove — ' 1, That the weight of a man is decreasing 
every minute ; 2, that animal heat is developed by muscular 
contractions, and that it is possible by agitating the thorax 
and the pelvian extremities to raise the temperature of a 
warm bath.' 

While they were thus engaged in the wash-house, Pecuchet 
naked in the scales, Bouvard equally naked in the bath, a 
strange dog came in, proved at first impervious to blandish- 
ment, then ran off with Pecuchet''s trousers, which it sat on. 
Eventually it proved amenable, and was then used for experi- 
ments disapproved of by the Antivivisection Society, all of 
which failed. 

Other similar experiments were equally unsuccessful, and 
at last, having discovered that Borelli assigns to the heart 
sufficient strength to lift a weight of 180,000 pounds, while 



LIFE OF GUST AVE FLAUBERT 309 

Keill estimates it only at eight ounces, they came to the 
conchision that physiology is the romance of medicine, and 
gave it up. 

They then came across the Medical Manual of Raspail, 
the clearness of whose medical doctrine seduced them : ' All 
diseases come from worms. They spoil the teeth, devour the 
lungs, expand the liver, ravage the intestines, and produce 
noises in them. The best cure for them is camphor.' 

(This Raspail was called in to the deathbed of Caroline 
Flaubert.) 

Bouvard and Pecuchet at once became apostles of camphor. 
They happened to cure Madame Bordin of a small ail- 
ment, and from that time ran the usual course of amateur 
physicians. 

They soon began to imagine themselves ill ; and before 
long their ideal was ' Cornaro the Venetian nobleman who 
by means of a regime attained to an extreme old age."* 

The study of hygienic manuals caused them to wonder 
how they had ever contrived to live so long. 

' All meats have inconveniences. The pudding and the 
sausage, the red herring, the lobster, and game are " refrac- 
tory." The bigger a fish is, the more gelatine it contains, 
and consequently the heavier it is. Vegetables cause acidity, 
macaroni gives dreams, cheeses, " considered generally, are 
difficult of digestion." A glass of water in the morning is 
" dangerous." Each drink or comestible being followed by a 
similar warning, or the words, " bad — beware of the abuse of 
it — does not suit everybody." Why bad ? In what does the 
abuse consist ? How know if such a thing suits you } ' 

What a problem breakfast is ! They gave up coffee with 
milk on account of its detestable reputation, and then choco- 
late, 'for it is a mass of indigestible substances.'' There 
remained tea. ' But nervous persons should forswear it 



310 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

entirely.*' However, Decker in the seventeenth century pre- 
scribed twenty decalitres a day to clean out the pancreas. 

This piece of information shook their confidence in Morin, 
the more that he condemns every form of headdress, hats, 
bonnets, and caps, a pretension revolting to Pecuchet. 

Then they bought Becquerel's treatise, in which they saw 
that ' the pig is in itself a good form of food,' ' tobacco 
perfectly innocent,' and coffee ' indispensable to military men.'' 

Up to that time they had believed in the unwholesome- 
ness of damp places. Not at all ! Casper declares them 
less deadly than others. One does not bathe in the sea 
without invigorating one's skin. Begin declares that one 
should jump into it in full perspiration. Wine taken neat 
after soup is said to be excellent for the stomach. Levy 
charges it with damaging the teeth. Lastly, the flannel 
vest, that safeguard, that protection of health, that pal- 
ladium beloved by Bouvard, and inherent to Pecuchet 
without any subterfuges or dread of adverse opinion what- 
ever, is by some authors pointed at as dangerous to men of 
a plethoric and sanguine temperament. 

What then is hygiene ? 

' Truth this side of the Pyrenees, error beyond," affirms 
M. Levy, and Becquerel adds that it is not a science. 

Then they ordered for their dinner oysters, a duck, pork 
and cabbages, cream, a Pont-rEveque cheese, and a bottle of 
Burgundy. It was an emancipation, almost a revenge, and 
they derided Cornaro ! One must be imbecile to let one- 
self be tyrannised over as he was. What contemptible 
baseness to be always thinking of lengthening one's life ! 
Life is only good if it is enjoyed. 

* " Another piece ? " 
' " Certainly." 
' " I too ! " 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 311 

' " To your health ! " 

' " To yours ! " 

' " And let us snap our fingers at everything ! " ' 

They became excited. 

Bouvard announced that he wanted three cups of coffee, 
even though he was not a military man. Pecuchet, his cap 
over his ears, took pinch after pinch of snuff and sneezed 
fearlessly ! 

After this repast the friends repaired to the garden to 
take their coffee, and, as the evening was a fine one, soon 
lost themselves in admiration of the stars ; this led them to 
an astronomical discussion, and then to the Harmonies of 
Bernardin de Saint Pierre. 

* Harmonies vegetable and ten-estrial, aerial, aquatic, human, 
fraternal, and even conjugal ; everything was there, not omit- 
ting invocations to Venus, the Zephyrs, and the Loves. They 
were lost in admiration because fish had fins, birds wings, seeds 
a covering, full of that philosophy which discovers virtuous 
intentions in nature, and considers her like a kind of Saint 
Vincent de Paul always occupied in bestowing benefactions ! 

' Then they admired her prodigies, water-spouts, volcanoes, 
virgin forests, and they bought M. Dupuy's work upon the 
" Marvels and Beauties of Nature in France." Cantal possesses 
three of them, Herault five. Burgundy two — no more, while 
Dauphine reckons to itself alone as many as fifteen wonders.' 

From such studies they easily passed to Buffon and Cuvier ; 
they began to collect fossils. 

' One afternoon, as they were turning over some flints on the 
high road, the Cure passed, and, addressing them in a wheedling 
voice, said : 

' " These gentlemen are interested in geology. Very good." 

' For he had a high opinion of this science. It confirms the 
authority of the Scriptures by proving the deluge. 

' Bouvard spoke of coprolites, which are the petrified excre- 
ments of animals. 



312 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

' The Abbe Jeufroy seemed surprised at the fact ; after all, 
if it were so, it was a reason the more for admiring the ways of 
Providence.' 

The news that an elephant's jaw was said to have been 
discovered at Villers, and an alligator near Port-en-Bessin 
at the foot of the cliff, sent them off on a fossil-hunting 
expedition. Their first unauthorised attack on the cliffs 
ended in a demand for a passport, and conflict with the 
local authorities. 

' Besides a passport, they were in want of many things, and, 
before undertaking any further explorations, they consulted the 
Geological Travellers' Guide by Boue. One should have, first 
of all, one's soldier's haversack, then a surveyor's chain, a file, 
nippers, a compass, and three hammers, passed into a belt, 
which is hidden under the overcoat, and thus " preserves you 
from that appearance of originality which should be avoided on 
a journey." As stick, Pecuchet adopted with full confidence 
the tourist's stick, six feet long with a long iron point. Bouvard 
preferred an umbrella-cane or polybranch umbrella, whose 
handle can be withdrawn in order to hook on the cover, which 
is carried separately in a little bag. They did not forget strong 
boots with gaiters ; each had " two pairs of braces, because of 
perspiration," and although " one cannot present one's self 
everywhere in a cap," they shunned the expense of " one of 
those folding hats which bear the name of the hatter Gibus, 
their inventor." 

' The same woi-k gives precepts for conduct : " To know the 
language of the countries to be visited " ; they knew it. " To 
preserve a modest behaviour" ; it was their custom. " Not to 
have too much money about one " ; nothing simpler. Lastly, 
to avoid all kinds of difficulties it is good to adopt the " qualifi- 
cation of engineer." 

'"Well, we will adopt it." ' 

An expedition to Fecamp, though the travellers were thus 
admirably equipped, nearly ended in disaster ; for Pecuchet 
discoursed so eloquently of the possibility of a sudden cata- 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 313 

clysm, whereby the shores of England should be united to 
those of France, that Bouvard, who had eaten nothing all 
day, hearing a rumbling of stones from the cliff, concluded 
that the period of the catastrophe had already arrived, and 
fled in terror along the shore. 

Then they began the study of geology. 

' From biographies and extracts they learnt something of the 
doctrines of Lamarck and GeofFroy Saint-Hilaire, 

' All that was contrary to the received views, to the authority 
of the Church. 

' Bouvard felt as it were the alleviation of a broken yoke. 

' " I should like to see now what answer citizen Jeufroy would 
give me about the deluge ! " 

' They found him in his little garden, where he was waiting 
for the members of the Church Maintenance Committee, w^ho 
were to meet immediately to consider the purchase of a 
chasuble. 

'"These gentlemen require.'^" 

'"An explanation, if you please." 

' And Bouvard began : — " What did these expressions in 
Genesis mean, ' The depths that are broken up,' and ' the 
cataracts of Heaven ' } For a depth is not broken up, and 
Heaven has no cataracts." 

* The Abbe closed his eyelids, then replied that it was always 
necessary to distinguish between the letter and the sense. 
Things which are shocking to you at first become regxdar if you 
go to the bottom of them. 

' " Very good ! But how explain the rain that surpassed the 
highest mountains, which are two leagues high ! Think of that, 
two leagues ! A thickness of two leagues of water ! " 

* And the Mayor coming up added : " Deuce take it ! What 
a bath!" 

' " Admit," said Bouvard, " that Moses exaggerates like the 
devil." 

' The parson had read Bonald, and replied : — " I do not know 
his motives ; doubtless it was to inspire the people whom he 
guided with a wholesome awe !" 



314 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

' " Lastly, this mass of water, where did it come from ? " 

' " How should I know ! The air was changed into rain, as 
happens every day." 

' Through the garden gate they saw M. Girbal enter, the 
Superintendent of Taxes, with Captain Heurtaux, a landowner, 
and Beljambe, the innkeeper, arm-in-arm with Langlois, the 
grocer, who walked with difficulty on account of his cough. 

' Pecuchet, without noticing them, took up the woi-d : — 

' " Pardon me, M. Jeufroy. The weight of the atmosphere — 
science proves it for us — is equal to that of a mass of water 
which would make an envelope of nearly eleven yards round 
the earth. Consequently, if all the air fell down condensed 
into a liquid form, it would increase the mass of existing water 
very little.' 

' And the tradesmen opened their eyes wide, and began to 
listen. 

' The Cure got vexed. 

' " Will you deny that shells have been found upon the moun- 
tions } What put them there if it was not the deluge .'' They 
are not in the habit, I suppose, of growing in the earth all of 
themselves like carrots ! " and this joke having caused the com- 
pany to laugh, he added, pursing up his lips : " Unless that is 
another of the discoveries of science ? " 

' Bouvard wished to reply by the upheaval of mountains, the 
theory of Elie de Beaumont. 

' " Not of my acquaintance ! " replied the Abbe. 

' Foreau hastened to say : " He comes from Caen. I saw him 
once at the Prefecture." 

"'But if your deluge," resumed Bouvard, "had transported 
the shells, we should find them broken on the surface, and not 
at depths of sometimes more than nine hundred feet." 

' The priest took refuge in the veracity of the Scriptures, the 
traditions of the human race, and the animals discovered in ice 
in Siberia. 

' " That does not prove that men lived at the same time as 
they." The earth, according to Pecuchet, was considerably older. 

' " The delta of the Mississippi goes back to tens of thousands 
of years. The actual epoch is at least a hundred thousand." 
Manetho's lists . . . 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 315 

' The Comte de Faverges advanced. 

' All were silent on his aiTival. 

' " Go on, pray ! What were you saying ? " 

' "These gentlemen were finding fault with me," replied the 
Abbe. 

'"About what?" 

'"About the Holy Scriptures, my lord." 

' Bouvard at once alleged that they had a i-ight to discuss 
religion as geologists. 

'"Take care," said the count; "you know the saying, my 
dear sir — a little science leads from it, a great deal brings back 
to it." And in a tone at once superior and paternal : " Believe 
you will come back to it ! You will come back \" ' 

And so the conversation proceeded ; attack and defence 
being alike conducted inadequately. 

Tired of geology, the friends took to simply enjoying the 
country ; one day, feeling thirst after a long walk, they went 
into a public-house, where they bought an old oak chest, and 
engaged the young servant as a subsidiary domestic, embark- 
ing in both speculations, to some extent, on the recommen- 
dation of one Gorju, a vagabond joiner, whose acquaintance 
they had previously made. 

' Six months later they had become antiquarians, and their 
house was like a museum.'' 

Among the obj ects which they cherished were : — 

'Two coco-nuts that had belonged to Pecuchet from his 
youth up, an earthenware barrel, on which a peasant rode. 
Then in a straw basket there was a farthing which had been 
brought up by a duck. 

' In front of the bookcase stood a shell table with plush orna- 
ments. Its cover supported a cat holding a mouse in its maw 
— a petrifaction from Saint-Allyre, a work-box also in shells, and 
on this box a decanter of brandy contained a bon-chretie7i pear.' 

The rest of the collection was to match, including a 
butter-pot, bearing in white letters on a chocolate ground : 



316 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

' Made in the presence of His Royal Highness the Duke of 
Angouleme at Noron, October 3rd, 184n.'' 

Archaeology naturally led to architecture ; they visited 
cathedrals, learnt to recognise and protest against ' the de- 
based ' in style ; from the cathedrals the step to castles and 
manor-houses was not a long one, and then in due sequence 
came local traditions and Celtic remains. 

Meanwhile their neighbour, Madame Bordin, a keen 
woman of business, with a Norman's hunger for land, 
courted them, Bouvard especially, whose weakness for the 
sex she proposed to turn to account. She and others visited 
the museum, and were edified with the spectacle of Bouvard 
' doing a monk of the Middle Ages in an attitude of prayer. "* 

Such respectable studies won the favour of the Count him- 
self, who indicated the existence of a holy-water basin, half- 
buried in the grass from time immemorial, behind the wall 
of the cemetery ; this, on being exhumed, was pronounced 
triumphantly to be a ' druidical bowl "■ by an authority to 
whom they appealed. 

Stimulated by success, they plunged more and more deeply 
into Celtic archaeology ; and eventually transported the bowl 
to their museum by night. They did not, however, escape 
the eye of the Abbe Jeufroy, who, by protesting against the 
sacrilege, judiciously contrived to sell them a piece of earthen- 
ware at an exorbitant price as ' Old Rouen."* 

Celticism, by an easy sequence, introduced nature-worship, 
and soon everything Bouvard saw was phallic. Meanwhile 
the Abbe's soup-tureen brought on china-mania, and a sub- 
sequent disillusionment as to the value of marks on pottery. 

A tour into Brittany was planned ; historical studies were 
a necessary preliminary ; soon they were deep in the French 
Revolution. From the difficulty of coming to definite con- 
clusions about the men of that time, they inferred that it 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 317 

was necessary to know all history. Then came the difficulty 
of remembering dates, and they began to use the Memoria 
Technka of Pecuchet"'s friend Dumouchel, with results not 
altogether happy. 

* To secure greater clearness they took as " memorio-technical 
base/ their own house, their domicile, associating a distinct fact 
with each part of it ; and the court, the garden, the outskirts, 
the whole country, had no longer any significance except as an 
aid to memory. The hedges in the fields defined certain epochs, 
the apple-trees were genealogical stems, the bushes battles, the 
whole world became symbolic. They sought for heaps of things 
absent from their walls, ending by seeing them, but forgot the 
dates that they represented. 

' Pecuchet tried to explain myths, and got lost in the Scienza 
Niiova. 

' " Will you deny the design of Providence ? " 

' " Don't know it," said Bouvard. 

'And they decided to refer to Dumouchel. The professor 
declared that he was now dead-beat in the matter of history. 

' " It changes every day. The kings of Rome are contested, 
and the journeys of Pythagoras ; Belisaiius, William Tell, are 
attacked, and even the Cid, who, thanks to the most recent dis- 
coveries, has become a mere bandit. It is to be desired that 
discoveries should cease to be made, and indeed the Institute 
should establish a kind of canon prescribing what we ought to 
believe." ' 

Despairing of their authorities, the two friends determined 
to write a history of their own, and selected as subject the 
Duke of Angouleme. 

The result is an excellent parody of the accepted form of 
biography. The friends went to the library at Caen for 
information. 

' When they had taken notes they drew up a programme : — 
' Birth and infancy of but little interest. One of the tutors 
is the Abbe Guenee, the enemy of Voltaire. 



318 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

' At Turin he is made to cast a cannon, and he studies the 
campaigns of Charles viii. Also he is, in spite of his youth, 
named colonel of a regiment of noble guards. 

'1797. His marriage. 

'1814. The English seize Bordeaux. He runs up behind 
them and shows his person to the inhabitants. Description of 
the prince's person. 

* 1815. Bonaparte surprises him. All of a sudden he summons 
the king of Spain, and Toulon, but for Massena, would have 
been delivered to England. 

' Operations in the south. He is beaten, but released under 
the promise of restoring the crown diamonds carried off at full 
speed by his uncle the king. 

' After the Hundred Days he returns with his parents, and 
lives quietly. Several years pass. 

' The Spanish War. As soon as he has crossed the Pyrenees, 
victory everywhere follows the son of Henry iv. He carries the 
Trocadero, reaches the Columns of Hercules, annihilates faction, 
embraces Ferdinand, and comes back. 

' Triumphal arches, flowers presented by maidens, dinners at 
the Prefecture. Te Deu?n in the cathedrals. The Parisians are 
at the height of intoxication. The town offers him a banquet. 
Allusions to the hero are sung upon the stage. 

' The enthusiasm diminishes, for in 1827 a subscription ball 
at Chei-bourg fails. 

' As he is High Admiral of France, he inspects the fleet, 
which is going to sail for Algiers. 

'July 1830. Marmontel informs him of the state of aflairs. 
Then he flies into such a rage that he wounds his own hand 
with the general's sword. 

' The King commits to him the command of all the troops. 

' He meets detachments of the line at the Bois de Boulogne, 
and has not a single word to say to them. 

' From Saint Cloud he flies to Sevres Bridge. Coldness of 
the troops. That does not shake him. The Royal Family leave 
Trianon. He takes a seat at the foot of an oak, unfolds a 
map, reflects, remounts his horse, passes in front of Saint Cyr, 
and sends words of hope to the students. 

' At Rambouillet the bodyguards bid good-bye to him. 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 319 

' He embarks, and is sick during the whole of the passage. 
End of his career. 

' One should observe in it the impoi-tant part played by 
bridges. 

' First, he exposes himself unnecessarily on the Bridge of the 
Inn ; he takes the Bridge of the Saint Esprit, and the Bridge of 
Lauriot ; at Lyons the two bridges are fatal to him, and his 
fortune expires before the Bridge of Sevres. 

' Catalogue of his virtues. Useless to vaunt his courage, to 
which he united deep policy. For he offered every soldier 
sixty francs to abandon the Emperor, and in Spain he tried to 
corrupt the constitutional party by money down. 

' His reserve was so profound that he consented to the mar- 
riage planned between his father and the Queen of Etruria ; 
to the formation of a new cabinet after the " ordonnances " ; 
to the abdication in favour of Chambord ; to everything one 
wished. 

' He was not, however, wanting in firmness. At Angers he 
cashiered the infantiy of the National Guard, which, jealous 
of the cavalry, and by means of a stratagem, had succeeded 
in forming his escort, so that His Highness found himself 
entangled among the privates to the extent of getting his 
knees squeezed. But he blamed the cavalry, the cause of 
the disorder; and pardoned the infantry, — a regular judgment 
of Solomon. 

'His piety was shown by numerous devotions, and his 
clemency by obtaining the pardon of General Debelle, who had 
borne arms against him. 

' Personal details characteristic of the Prince : — At the 
chateau of Beauregard, in his infancy, he took a pleasure in 
digging out, along with his brother, a pond, which is still 
to be seen. 

'Once he visited the barracks of the Chasseurs, asked for 
a glass of wine, and drank it to the health of the King. 

' While walking, in order to mark the step, he used to repeat 
to himself, " One two, one two, one two." 

* Some of his phrases have been preserved. To a deputation 
from Bordeaux he said: "What consoles me for not being at 
Bordeaux is to find myself with you ! " 



320 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

' To the Protestants of Nismes : " I am a good Catholic, but 
I shall never forget that my most distinguished ancestor was a 
Protestant." 

' To the students at Saint Cyr, when all was lost : " Good, 
my friends ! The news is good ! All is well ! very well ! " 

' After the abdication of Charles x, : " Since they do not want 
me, they must settle it between them ! " 

'And in 1814, on every occasion in the smallest villages: 
" No more war, no more conscription, no more united rights ! " 

' His style was as good as his word. His proclamations are 
unsurpassed. 

' The first of the Comte d' Artois began thus : — " Frenchmen, 
the brother of your King has arrived ! " 

' That of the Prince : " I arrive. I am the son of your kings ! 
You are Frenchmen." 

' Order of the day, dated from Bayonne : " Soldiers, I 
arrive ! " 

' Another, in the midst of defection : " Continue to support, 
with the vigour which befits the French soldier, the struggle 
that you have begun. France expects it of you ! " 

' Last of all, at Rambouillet : " The King has entered into an 
arrangement with the Government established at Paris, and 
everything inclines us to believe that this arrangement is on the 
point of being concluded." " Everything inclines us to believe " 
was sublime. 

' " One thing troubles me," said Bouvard, " there is no men- 
tion of his love-affairs." 

' And they noted in the margin, " Inquire into the Prince's 
amours ! " ' 

On their return from Caen they found their household in 
some confusion ; the famous chest, which was on the point 
of completion, broken up by a stray cow, according to 
Gorju ; the said Gorju and the new maid Melie issued sus- 
piciously from the barn ; the old housekeeper, Germaine, was 
apparently drunk ; Madame Bordin appeared to be making 
an inspection of the premises. 

' We do not know,^ said Bouvard, ' what goes on in our 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 321 

own household, and yet we claim to discover what was the 
colour of the Duke of Angouleme's hair, and story of his 
amours.' 

Eventually they decided upon a course of historical novels, 
as ' History is defective without imagination.' 

Their first delight in Walter Scott was spoiled by the dis- 
covery that he falsifies the order of events, while Dumas is 
reckless in his history. 

Pecuchet took to historical plays. 

' He swallowed two Pharamonds, three Clevises, four Charle- 
magnes, several Philip Augustuses, a crowd of Jeanne d'Arcs, 
numerous Pompadours, and conspiracies of Cellamare. 

' Nearly all seemed to him more inane than the romances. 
For there is a conventional history for the stage that is inde- 
structible. Louis XI. will never fail to kneel in front of the 
figures on his hat; Henry iv. will be for ever jovial; Mary 
Stuart tearful, Richelieu cruel ; lastly, all the characters are 
shown in one single mould, from love of simplicity and respect 
for ignorance ; with the result that the play-writer, instead 
of elevating, debases, and encourages stupidity instead of 
knowledge.' 

Other novels proved no more satisfactory than the historical 
romances ; even Balzac, who wrote a book on chemistry, 
another on the bank, another on printing-presses, just as 
one Ricard had done ' the cabman,' ' the water-carrier,' ' the 
coco-nut seller.' ' We should have them upon all the trades, 
and all the provinces, then upon all the towns, and the floors 
of each house, and upon each individual ; and then we shall 
have literature no longer, but statistics or ethnography.' 

Tragedy and comedy then occupied the attention of the 
friends ; both seemed false. 

One day Madame Bordin called to return a volume of 
Pigault-Lebrun which she had borrowed ; Bouvard was 
reciting ; she begged him to continue. After some passages 

X 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

from Racine and Moliere, addressed to Pecuchet, Bouvard 
delivered Hernani's apostrophe to Dona Sol ; his eyes met 
those of Madame Bordin, sentimental relations declared 
themselves ; Bouvard became more enamoured of the stage 
than ever, and he and Pecuchet resolved to write plays. 
Their ambition proved at first greater than their power : 
and as usual they had recourse to manuals ; before long they 
thought it advisable to study grammar, and quickly came to 
the opinion that ' syntax is a fancy and grammar an illu- 
sion."" They excited themselves over questions of style and 
taste to such an extent that Pecuchet developed a jaundice. 
When it was at its height Madame Bordin called ; she 
wished to buy a meadow of one acre, the lawyer Marescot 
soon followed her ; shortly afterwards Vaucorbeil the doctor, 
and no less a person than the Comte de Faverges, armed 
with political pamphlets, and bearing a novel in his hand 
which he had confiscated from Melie, discovered reading in 
the kitchen. 

' They talked of novels. Madame Bordin liked them when 
they were not sad. 

' " Writers," said M. de Faverges, " represent life to us under 
too glowing colours." 

' " One must represent ..." objected Bouvard. 

' " Then one has only to follow the example ..." 

' " There is no question of example ! " 

' " At least you will admit they may fall into the hands of 
a young girl. I have a daughter." 

' " A charming one ! " said the lawyer, assuming the face 
which he wore at marriage-contracts. 

' " Well, for her sake, or rather that of the persons who sur- 
round her, I forbid them in my house, for the People, my dear 
sir, the People. . . ." ' 

And so forth ; each of the assembled company contri- 
buting his share to the indictment against literature, which 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 323 

is a favourite topic with well-meaning people, who have no 
real love of books. 

* After the departure of the guests they epitomised what 
they had just heard. The morality of art is contained for each 
individual in the side which flatters his interests.' 



Part IL 

The Revolution of 1848 drew the attention of the friends 
to politics ; as trees of liberty were planted in Paris, the 
Municipal Council of Chavignolles accepted a young poplar- 
tree from Bouvard, which was with all due ceremony placed 
at the entrance of the village. 

The Abbe Jeufroy took charge of the function, and made 
a speech, in which, ' after having thundered against Kings, he 
glorified the Republic.'' 

' " Do we not speak of the Republic of letters, the Christian 
Republic .'' What could be more innocent than the one^, more 
beautiful than the other ? Jesus Christ gave the form of our 
sublime device ; the tree of the people was the tree of the 
Cross. In order that religion may render her fruits, she needs 
charity," and in the name of charity, the ecclesiastic adjured his 
brethren not to commit any disorder, to return home peace- 
fully.' 

All were charmed with the speech and the ceremonial ; 
however, it was not long before the workmen began to sing 
the Marseillaise, Gorju in their midst, and the recently 
appointed Schoolmaster Petit at their side. Foureau, the 
mayor, began to see visions of the guillotine. 

Soon everybody began to think of being a deputy, from 
Gorju upwards. The captain dreamed of it under his 
policeman\s cap, while smoking his big pipe, and the school- 
master also in his school, and the parson between two 



324 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

prayers, insomuch that he sometimes surprised himself with 
his eyes turned to Heaven, in the act of saying : — ' Grant, 
O God, that I may be made a deputy ! ' 

Bouvard and Pecuchet were infected with the same fever, 
but while they were still undecided as to which of them had 
the better claim, the election was carried by a newspaper 
editor from Caen. 

Then the reaction began. Gorju and his friends appeared 
before the Municipal Council and demanded work. The 
Mayor trembled, his voice failed him ; and none of his col- 
leagues showed any greater presence of mind. At last, word 
was send to the deputation that shops of charity were being- 
prepared. 

' Charity ? Thank you ! ' cried Gorj u. ' Down with the 
aristocrats ! We want the right to work."" 

Pecuchet eventually appeared on the scene, and attempted 
to make a speech, but was removed with some risk of per- 
sonal violence, from which he was rescued by Gorju. Pere 
Gouy, the tenant who farmed for Bouvard, interpreted the 
' right to work "* after a fashion of his own, and proceeding to 
Madame Bordin's garden with a cart-load of manure, pro- 
ceed to dig up her lawn. Bouvard intervened in defence of 
the widow, who retained the manure as compensation for 
damage done. 

The public workshops only lasted a week. Gorju went 
away. The National Guard began to display great activity, 
little discipline and no courage. A few weeks later, they 
arrested a man who was found lurking about the place with 
a gun, and who proved to be Gorju in a state of complete 
destitution. He was sent to prison, hurt, because Pecuchet 
did not interfere on his behalf. 

On the 10th of December all the inhabitants of Chavi- 
gnolles voted for Bonaparte. 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 325 

' The six millions of votes chilled Pecuehet's affection for the 
People, — and he and Bouvard studied the question of universal 
suffrage. 

' Belonging to evei-ybody, it must be devoid of intelligence. 
One ambitious man will always guide it, the others will follow 
like a flock, the electors not being obliged even to know how to 
read : that is why, according to Pecuchet, there was so much 
dishonesty in the election of the President. 

' " None whatever," replied Bouvard ; " I incline rather to 
believe in the folly of the People. Think of all those who buy 
quack medicine ! These fools form the bulk of the electors, 
and we submit to their will. Why can one not make an annual 
income of three thousand francs out of rabbits ? Because too 
close crowding is a cause of death. In the same way, by the 
mere fact of the existence of a crowd, the germs of inanity 
which it contains are developed, and incalculable consequences 
are the result." ' 

Soon after this the trees of liberty were generally uprooted. 
' Bouvard saw with his own eyes the fragments of his poplar 
on a wheelbarrow. They served to warm the policemen, 
and the stem was offered to the cure, — who had never how- 
ever blessed it ! What a piece of derision ! "* 

However, there was one person in Chavignolles who did 
not veer round with the prevailing wind : — 

' The schoolmaster did not conceal his way of thinking. 

' Bouvard and Pecuchet congratulated him on it one day when 
they were passing his door. 

' The next day he called on them. At the end of the week 
they returned his visit. 

'The daylight was fading, the boys had just gone away, and 
the schoolmaster in his shirt-sleeves swept the court. His 
wife, with a muslin cap on, was suckling a child. A little girl 
hid herself behind her petticoats ; a hideous brat was playing 
on the ground at her feet ; the water from the washing which 
she was doing in the kitchen flowed in front of the house. 

' '' You see," said the schoolmaster, " how the Government 
treats us ! " and at once he began to inveigh against the influ- 



326 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

ences of capital. It should be democratised ; matter should be 
emancipated. 

' " I ask for nothing better ! " said Pecuchet. " At least they 
ought to have recognised the right to assistance." 

' " Yet another right ! " said Bouvard. " Nonsense ! The pro- 
visional government had been weak in not ordaining fraternity." 

' " Then try to establish it ! " 

* As the daylight was gone. Petit roughly ordered his wife to 
place a light in his study. 

' On the plaster walls tlie lithograph portraits of the orators 
of the Left were fastened with pins, A small bookcase stood 
over a deal writing-desk. For seats, one had a chair, a stool, 
and an old soap-box ; he affected to laugh. But poverty 
hollowed his cheeks, and his narrow temples indicated a ram- 
like obstinacy, an unmanageable pride. He would never give 
way. 

' " Besides, you may see what keeps me up ! " 

' It was a pile of newspapers on a shelf, and he set forth 
in fevered words his articles of faith : disarmament of troops, 
abolition of magistrates, equality of salaries, a mean level by 
which one would obtain the golden age, under the form of the 
Republic, Avith a dictator at its head, the right sort of fellow to 
do the whole thing for you soundly ! 

' Then he reached down a bottle of liqueur and three glasses, 
in order to propose a toast to the hero, the immortal victim, 
Maximilian ! 

' On the threshold appeared the black cassock of the parson. 

' Having greeted the company cheerfully, he addressed the 
schoolmaster, and said to him, almost in a whisper : 

' " How is our little matter of the Saint Joseph getting on ? " 

' "They have given nothing," replied the schoolmaster. 

'"That is your fault!" 

' " I have done what I could ! " 

'"Really?" 

' Bouvard and Pecuchet discreetly rose. Petit made them sit 
down again, and addressing himself to the cure : — 

'"Is that all .>" 

' The Abbe Jeufroy hesitated ; then with a smile, which soft- 
ened his reprimand : 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 327 

' " It is thought that you neglect sacred history^ somewhat." 

'" Oh ! sacred history ! " interrupted Bouvard. 

' " What fault have you to find with it^ sir ? " 

' " I — none. Only perhaps there are more useful things to be 
learned than the story of Jonah and the Kings of Israel." 

' " You are at liberty to do as you please ! " replied the priest 
drily. 

'And without heeding the strangers, or perhaps because of 
them, he went on : 

' " The catechism hour is too short ! " 

' Petit shrugged his shoulders. 

' " Pray attend ! You will lose your boarders ! " 

' The ten francs a month paid by these pupils was the better 
part of his income. But the cassock exasperated him : 

' " So much the worse ; take your revenge ! " 

'"A man of my character never takes vengeance," said the 
priest without emotion. " Only I would remind you that the law 
of the 15th of March assigns the superintendence of primary 
instruction to us." 

' " Ah ! I know it only too well," cried the schoolmaster. " It 
also appertains to colonels of police ! Why not to the local 
policeman .'' — then the system would be complete ! " 

' And he sank down on the bench, biting his fingers, holding 
his anger, choked by the sensation of his want of powei*. 

' The ecclesiastic touched him lightly on the shoulder. 

' " I did not wish to grieve you, friend ! Quiet yourself ! A 
little reason ! 

' " Here is Easter close upon us ! I hope that you will set an 
example by communicating with the rest ? " 

' "That is too much ! I — I submit to such absurdities .''" 

' In the presence of this blasphemy the cure turned pale. His 
eyeballs gleamed. His jaw quivered : 

' " Hold your tongue, unhappy man, hold your tongue ! — and 
his wife is the woman who takes charge of the church linen ! " 

' " Well — what ? What has she done ? " 

' " She never comes to mass ! Like you, for that matter." 

' " Well ! A schoolmaster is not cashiered for a thing like 
that ! " 

'"He can be dismissed." 



328 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

' The priest said no more. He was at the end of the room, 
in the shadow. Petit with his chin on his chest was thinking. 

'They would arrive at the other end of France^ their last 
penny swallowed by the journey, and they would again find over 
there under diiferent names the same cure, the same superinten- 
dent, the same prefect ; all of them up to the Minister were like 
the rings of the same crushing chain ! He had already received 
a warning, others would follow. Then ? and in a kind of hallu- 
cination he saw himself walking on along a high-road, a bag on 
his back, those whom he loved beside him, his hand stretched 
out towards a post-chaise ! 

' At that moment liis wife was taken with a fit of coughing in 
the kitchen, the last-born baby began to sci-eam, and the boy 
was crying. 

' " Poor children ! " said the priest in a gentle voice. 

* Then the father burst into sobs. 

' " Yes, yes ! anything that is wanted ! " 
' " I coimt upon it," said the Cure. 
' And having made the usual bow : — 
' " Gentlemen, I wish you a very good-evening." 
' The schoolmaster remained with his face in his hands. He 
rejected Bouvard's advances. 

' " No ! leave me ! I would like to die ! I am a poor crea- 
ture." 

* The two friends returned to their house congratulating them- 
selves upon their independence. The power of the Clergy terri- 
fied them. 

' The reaction against the Republic continuing, " three million 
electors found themselves excluded from universal suffrage. 
The caution-money of newspapers was raised, censorship of the 
press re-established. There was a feeling against the romances 
in the daily papers. Classical philosophy was considered danger- 
ous. The middle classes preached the dogma of material 
interests, and the people seemed satisfied.' 

At this juncture M. de Faverges thought it expedient to 
give a political lunch, at which Bouvard was shocked by the 
contrast between the magnificence of the apartments in 
which they met and the meanness of the conversation. 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 329 

Having overheard M. de Faverges remarking to the Abbe 
Jeufroy, ' We must re-establish obedience. Authority dies, 
if it is discussed ! The right divine, there is nothing but 
that ! ' the friends began to study the works of pohtical 
theorists, beginnnig with the Enghshmen Fihner and Hobbes, 
and descending, through Rousseau, St. Simon, Fourier and 
others, to Auguste Comte ; they found that all the social 
reformers clamoured for a vigorous despotism interfering 
with the most minute details of domestic life. All reduced 
their own systems to an absurdity. 

" These documents distressed Pecuchet. In the evening at 
dinner he said : — 

' "■ That there are absurdities in the works of the Utopians I 
admit ; none the less, they deserve our love. The hideousness 
of the world distressed them, and they have all suffered in the 
effort to make it more beautiful. Bethink yourself of Thomas 
More decapitated, Campanilla put to the torture seven times, 
Buonarotti with a chain round his neck, Saint-Simon perishing 
in want, many others. They might have lived lives of tran- 
quillity : but no ! they trod their path with their heads to 
heaven like heroes.' 

' " Do you think that the world will be changed," replied 
Bouvard, "thanks to the theories of some gentleman ?" 

•^"What then !" said Pecuchet, "it is time to give up squat- 
ting in egotism ! Let us look for the best system ! " 

* " Then you count upon finding it ? " 
'"Certainly !" 

* " You } " 

' And in the fit of laughing which seized Bouvard his 
shoulders and his stomach heaved together. Redder than the 
jam on the table, his napkin under his arm, he kept repeating 
. . . " ha ! ha ! ha ! " in an irritating manner. 

' Pecuchet went out of the room slamming the door behind 
him. 

' The housekeeper called for him all over the house, — and at 
last he was found in the depths of his own apartment, in an 



330 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

easy-chair without fire or candle, and his cap over his eyes. 
He was not ill, but was giving himself up to his own reflections. 
'Their quarrel over, they recognised that their studies 
wanted a sound foundation, — political economy. So they in- 
quired into supply and demand, capital and rent, imposts and 
prohibition.' 

The coup cVEtat shortly afterwards pleased everybody ; 
even Petit rejoiced that Thiers and other deputies were in 
prison. 

'The butchery on the Boulevards won the approbation of 
Chavignolles. No mercy for the conquered, no pity for the 
victims ! As soon as one revolts one is a ci'iminal. 

' " Let us thank Providence ! " said the cure, " and after 
Providence, Louis Bonaparte. He is surrounding himself with 
the men of most distinction ! The Comte de Faverges will be 
made a Senator ! " 

' The next day they had a visit from the chief of the police. 

' These gentlemen had talked a good deal. He pledged 
them to hold their tongues. 

' " Would you like to know my opinion ? " said Pecuchet. 
" Since the middle class are savage, the artisans jealous, the 
priests servile, — and the people in the end puts up with all 
tyrants, provided it is allowed to keep its muzzle in the feeding- 
trough. Napoleon has done rightly ! Let him gag the rabble 
and exterminate it ! That will never be more than it deserves 
for its hatred of right, its cowardice, its ineptitude, its blind- 
ness." 

A still worse disappointment awaited the friends. They 
began to grow tired of one another. 

Bouvard beg-an to reflect that he might do worse than 
marry again, and seriously paid his court to Madame Bordin. 
A series of accidents inflamed Pecuchet with a violent passion 
for Melie, the maid, who had been recommended by Gorju. 
But it turned out that Madame Bordin cared nothing for 
Bouvard, her affections being really fixed upon a particular 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 331 

meadow in his farm, and when he refused her this on the 
occasion of drawing up the marriage-settlement, she broke 
out into insults, spoke contemptuously of his constitution, 
his pot-belly ; while Pecuchet discovered too late that Melie 
must have had other admirers than himself. 

The disillusionment brought the friends together again ; 
they repeated all the commonplaces that have ever been said 
to the disadvantage of women ; and consoled themselves with 
a course of hydropathy and gymnastics under the guidance 
of the Manual of Amoros ; and with the results which usually 
attend upon the athletics of the middle-aged. 

At this period some spirit-rappers descended upon the 
Chateau de Faverges, and from thence their practices spread 
through the village ; and by a natural sequence directed the 
attention of Pecuchet to animal magnetism ; he read the 
Magnetiser's Chiide by Montacabere, and imparted his dis- 
coveries to Bouvard. Its therapeutic powers particularly 
interested them, and the successful results of an experiment 
upon their housekeeper tempted them to a wider extension 
of their skill ; the fame of Bouvard even spread to Falaise. 

Soon their garden was crowded with patients ; a woman 
with a tumour among them ; a pubhc demonstration was 
given of the effect of a magnetised tree, but in spite of some 
encouraging symptoms, ' Bouvard and Pecuchet had not on 
the whole succeeded. Had that to do with the temperature, 
or the smell of tobacco, or the Abbe Jeufroy's umbrella, 
which was ornamented with copper, a metal unfavourable to 
the emission of the fluid ? ' 

Spiritualism succeeded magnetism, and Pecuchet foundered 
his intellect in the endeavour to discover what there was 
beautiful in the revelations of Swedenborg, which appeared 
to Bouvard a fooFs dream ; but he was not proof against the 
charms of magic, and employed the methods of one Dupotet 



332 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

to raise a spirit called Bechet with such effect that they 
frightened their old housekeeper out of her wits. She left 
them that evening for good. 

For a time their extravagances became wilder each day ; 
they took a divining-wand, sought for hidden treasure ; 
mesmerised fowls ; Pecuchet invited a condition of ecstasy, 
and found that it depended upon an external and material 
circumstance, the bright under-surface of the peak of his 
cap. This led them to study metaphysics, ethics, and at 
last Bouvard did not even believe in matter. 

'The certainty that nothing exists (deplorable though it be) 
is none the less a certainty. Few persons are capable of having 
it. This transcendental position inspired them with pride, and 
they would have liked to make a display. An opportunity 
offered. 

' One morning on their way to buy tobacco they saw a crowd 
in front of Langlois' door. They were surrounding the Falaise 
omnibuSj and there was a great talk of one Touache, a galley- 
slave, who roamed about the country. The conductor had met 
him at Croix- Verte, between two policemen, and the good folk 
of Chavignolles breathed a sigh of deliverance. 

' Girbal and the Captain remained on the green, then the 
justice of the peace arrived, anxious to have information, and 
M. Marescot, the notary, in a velvet cap and list slippers. 

' Langlois invited them to honour his shop with their 
presence. They would be more at their ease, and in spite of 
the customers and the noise of the bell these gentlemen con- 
tinued to discuss the delinquencies of Touache. 

' " My goodness ! " said Bouvard, " he had bad instincts, there 
you are ! " 

'"They are conquered by virtue," replied the notary. 

' " But if one has no virtue ? ' 

'And Bouvard absolutely denied free-will. 

'" Yet," said the Captain, " I can do what I like ! I am free, 
for instance, to move my leg ! " 

' " No, sir, for you have a motive for moving it ! " 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 333 

The Captain sought an answei% failed to find one. But 
Girbal let off this missile : — 

' " A Republican speaking against liberty ! that is funny." 

' " A real joke ! " said Langlois. 

' Bouvard interrupted him : 

* " Whence comes it that you do not give your fortune to the 
poor ? " 

' The grocer cast his eyes round his shop with an anxious air. 

' " Eh, why ? I am not such a fool ! I keep it for myself! " 

' " If you were St. Vincent de Paul you would act differently, 
because you would have his character. You obey your own. 
Therefore you are not free." 

'"It is a quibble," replied the company in chorus. 

Bouvard did not budge from his position, and pointing to the 
scales upon the counter : — 

' " They will remain motionless, so long as one of the pans is 
empty. It is the same with the will ; and the oscillation of 
the balance between two weights, which seem equal, represents 
the work of our mind, when it deliberates upon motives, till the 
moment, when the stronger has its way, determines. 

"'All that," said Girbal, "does nothing for Touache, and 
does not prevent hira from being a thoroughly vicious rascal." 

' Pecuchet took up the word : — 

' " Vices are natural properties, like inundations, storms." 

' The notary stopped him, and raising himself on tip-toe at 
every word, said : — 

' " I think your system complete in its immorality. It gives 
an opening to all excesses, excuses crimes, makes the guilty 
innocent." 

'"Certainly,' said Bouvard. "The unfortunate being who 
follows his appetites is as much in his rights as the honest man 
who listens to reason." 

'"Do not defend monsters." 

'"Why monsters.^ When a man is born blind, an idiot, a 
homicide, it seems to us contrary to ordei-, as if order were 
known to us, as if nature worked to an end ! " 

' Then you dispute Providence ? " 

' " Yes, I dispute it ! " 

'"Consider history rather," cried Pecuchet. "Recall the 



334 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

assassinations of kings, the massacre of peoples, the dissensions 
in families, the sorrows of individuals." 

'^' And at the same time," added Bouvard, for they mutually 
heated one another, " this Providence of yours cares for the 
little birds, and makes the claws of crayfish grow again. Ah, — 
if you understand by Providence a law which rules everything, 
I am with you, and then ! " 

' " Yet, sir," said the notary, " there are principles ! " 

'"What is your song now .-^ A science, according to Con- 
dillac, is so much the better, as it has no need of them ! They 
only epitomise acquired knowledge, and refer us precisely to 
those notions which are open to question." 

' " Have you, like us," went on Pecuchet, " searched, explored 
the secrets of metaphysics ? " 

' " That is true, gentlemen, that is true." 

' And the company broke up. 

' But Coulon, drawing them aside, told them in a fatherly 
tone that he was not strict, certainly, he even detested the 
Jesuits. However, he did not go so far as they did ! Oh no, — 
certainly not ; — and at the corner of the green they passed in 
front of the Captain, who was lighting his pipe, grumbling : — 

' " Still I do what I like, damn it all ! " 

' Bouvard and Pecuchet produced their abominable paradoxes 
on other occasions. They cast a doubt upon the honesty of 
men, the chastity of women, the intelligence of government, 
the good sense of the people, — in a word, undermined the 
foundations. 

' Foureau lost his temper over it, and threatened them with 
prison if they went on with such discourse. 

' The evidence of their superiority was galling. As they sup- 
ported immoral propositions they must be immoral, calumnies 
were invented. 

' Then an unfortunate faculty was developed in their minds ; 
that of seeing inanity and being unable to tolerate it any longer. 

' Insignificant things saddened them ; the advertisements in 
the papers, the profile of a middle-class person, a stupid remai'k 
heard by chance. 

'Thinking over what was said in their own village, and that 
there were from them to the Antipodes other Coulons, other 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 335 

Marescots, other Foureaus^ they felt as it were the heaviness of 
the whole earth weighing them down. 

' They ceased to go out, to receive anybody.' 

Death itself ceased to be a reality to tiiem, and their 
existence became so insupportable that Pecuchet took two 
ropes from the gymnastic apparatus, made a slip-knot at the 
end of each, and slung them over the cross-beam of the attic 
roof with two chairs, one under each. 

On the 24th of December, just before midnight, a quarrel 
broke out ; Pecuchet rushed out to the barn, followed by 
Bouvard ; they each jumped on to one of the chairs, and 
prepared to adjust the fatal noose, when Pecuchet remem- 
bered that their wills were not yet made. Looking through 
the window they saw lights in the churchyard : it w^as the 
midnight mass of Christmas Eve. 

Curiosity drove them to join the service ; at the end of it 
the Host was elevated by the priest as high as possible. 
' Then there burst out a song of gladness, inviting all the 
world to the feet of the King of Angels. Bouvard and 
Pecuchet involuntarily joined in, and felt, as it were, a new 
dawn rising in their souls.' 

The next day it seemed to them that the execution of 
their rash purpose had been suspended by a miraculous 
intervention, and they resolved to betake themselves to 
pious reading. 

Part IIL 

' One day they went to mass, then returned. It was a dis- 
traction at the end of the week. The Count and Countess de 
Faverges bowed to them in the distance ; the thing was 
remarked. The justice of the peace said to them, closing his 
eyelids, " Perfect, I commend you ! " All the ladies of the 
place now began to send them holy bread. 



336 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

' Abbe Jeufroy paid them a visit ; they returned it ; an 
intimacy grew up ; and the priest never talked of religion. 

' They were astonished at this reserve ; so much so that 
Pecuchet asked him casually how a man should set about 
getting faith. 

' " First observe the duties of religion." 

' They did so ; the one with hope, the other with mistrust, 
Bouvard being convinced that he would never be pious. For 
a month he followed all the services regularly, but, unlike 
Pecuchet, did not wish to condemn himself to fasting.' 

None the less, when he impiously ordered a beef-steak on 
Good Friday, he found himself unable to eat it ; the habits 
learned in childhood were too strong for him. 

Pecuchet, as might have been anticipated, took his devo- 
tion very seriously ; he tried to overcome his passionate 
temper, to cultivate humility, became so chaste that he 
averted his gaze from his own limbs when he was undressed, 
and wore bathing-drawers when he went to bed. One day 
Bouvard surprised him half-stripped, in the act of scourging 
himself. 

The friends passed under the special protection of Made- 
moiselle Reine, the cure's housekeeper ; she introduced them 
to one Gouttman, a purveyor of pious articles ; and they 
were not long in bartering the contents of their museum for 
candelabra, portable altars, pictures of saints, a cradleful of 
hay, and a cork cathedral. 

' Pecuchet adopted the ecclesiastical style, doubtless owing 
to his intimacy with the cure. He had his smile, his voice, 
and a chilly way of slipping his hands up to the wrists into 
his sleeves.' He groaned over his meals, having read in a 
manual of devotion that it was becoming to do so ; and 
finally, in order to acquire the gift of perseverance, made a 
})ilgrimage, in company with Bouvard, to the shrine of Notre 
Dame de la Delivrande, where there was a miraculous statue, 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 337 

' discovered about 1112 by a sheep, which indicated the 
place where it was by tapping on the grass with its foot, and 
on that spot Count Baldwin erected a sanctuary/ 

In spite of the miraculous powers of Notre Dame de la 
Delivrande, Bouvard gained little from the expedition, 
which, however, brought him into contact once more with 
his old friend Barberou, who appeared at an inn at which 
the friends stayed, in the capacity of wine - merchant's 
traveller. 

On their return they were invited to the annual dinner 
which Abbe Jeufroy was in the habit of giving to his col- 
leagues ; it began at two o'clock in the afternoon, and ended 
at eleven o'clock at night. 

' They drank perry, produced puns. Abbe Pruneau impro- 
vised an acrostic. M. Rougon showed some card-tricks, and a 
young curate, Cerpet, sang a little romance which touched the 
borders of gallantry. 

Before long the friends decided to take the Holy Com- 
munion, which they did on the Sunday after the annual 
confirmation. They were rewarded by an invitation to the 
house of the Comte de Faverges. 

On their return from church they found a book awaiting 
them ; it was the Examen du Christianisme by Louis Hervieu. 
Barberou had sent it. Pecuchet putitout of sight. Bouvard 
had no wish to make its acquaintance. 

' He had been told that the Sacrament would change him ; 
for several days he was on the look-out for signs of budding in 
his conscience. But he continued the same, and a painful 
amazement took possession of him. M. Jeufroy, while com- 
forting him, recommended the Catechism of Abbe Gaume.' 

Pecuchet, on the other hand, became highly devout, sang 
psalms as he walked up and down the passage ; stopped the 

Y 



338 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

natives of Chavignolles, argued with them, endeavoured to 
convert them. They laughed in his face and called him a 
hypocrite. ' It was now thought that the friends were going 
too far.' 

' Pecuchet took refuge with the mystic authors. Saint Theresa, 
Jean de la Croix, Louis de Grenade, Simpoli, and of the more 
modern, Monseigneur Chaillot. Instead of the sublimities, 
which he expected, he only encountered platitudes, a very slack 
style, chilly images, and plenty of comparisons taken from the 
lapidaiy's shop. 

' He learned, however, that there is an active purgation and 
a passive purgation, an internal vision and an external vision, 
four kinds of prayers, nine excellencies in love, six degrees in 
humility, and that the wound of the soul is not very different 
from a spiritual robbery. 

' Some points embarrassed him. 

' " Since the flesh is cursed, how is it that one is bound to 
thank God for the benefit of existence ? What mean is to be 
kept between the fear indispensable to salvation, and hope, 
which is no less so .'' Where is the sign of grace ?" etc. 

' The answers of M, Jeufroy were simple : 

' " Do not worry yourself. In wishing to get to the bottom 
of everything one runs on a dangerous slope." 

' The Catechism of Perseverance by Gaume had disgusted 
Bouvard to such a degree that he took up Louis Hervieu's 
volume. It was a summary of modern exegesis forbidden by 
the Government. Barberou had bought it as a Republican. 

' It awoke doubts in Bouvard's mind, and, to begin with, on 
original sin. " If God created man peccable. He ought not to 
punish him ; and evil is anterior to the fall, because there were 
already volcanoes, savage animals. In a word, this dogma 
upsets my notions of justice ! " 

' " What would you have .'' " said the cure, " it is one of those 
truths about which every one is agreed, without being able to 
supply proofs ; and we ourselves visit the crimes of their fathers 
upon the children. Thus morality and law justify this ordinance 
of Providence, which is found in nature." 

' Bouvard shook his head. He also doubted hell. 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 339 

' " For every punishment should look to the improvement of 
the guilty one, which is impossible with an eternal penalty ; 
and how many are suffering it ! Just think, all the ancients, the 
Jews, Mussulmans, idolaters, heretics, and children dead unbap- 
tized, those children created by God, and with what object ! 
To punish them for a sin which they have not committed ! " 

' " Such is the opinion of St. Augustine," added the cure, 
"and St. Fulgentius includes even the foetus in damnation. 
The Church, it is true, has come to no decision on this point. 
One remark, however : it is not God but the sinner who con- 
demns himself, and the offence being infinite, since God is 
infinite the punishment should be infinite. Is that all, sir .'' " 

' "Explain me the Trinity," said Bouvard. 

' " With pleasure. Let us take a comparison : the three sides 
of a triangle, or rather our own soul, which contains being, 
knowing, and willing ; what one calls a faculty in man is a 
person in God. There is your mystery." 

* " Yes, but the three sides of a triangle are not each one 
of them the triangle : these three faculties of the soul do not 
form three souls, and your persons of the Trinity are three 
Gods." 

' " Blasphemy ! " 

'"Then there is only one person, one God, one substance 
affected in three manners ! " 

' " Let us adore without understanding," said the cure. 

' " Good," said Bouvard. 

' He was afraid of being taken for an atheist, of falling into 
disfavour at the big house. 

* They used to go there now three times a week about five 
o'clock in the winter, and the cup of tea warmed them. The 
Count recalled the style of the ancient court by his manners ; 
the Countess, placid and stout, showed on all points great dis- 
cernment ; and their daughter. Mademoiselle Yolande, was the 
type of the young person, the angel of the " Keepsake"; and 
Madame de Noares, their companion, was like Pecuchet, having 
his pointed nose.' 

She had converted Gorju, and secured the Count's pro- 
tection for two vagabond children that she had picked up. 



340 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

Their father was the convict Touache, a fact which she 
concealed. 

' When M. Jeufroy used to go to the chateau the two brats 
were sent for ; he used to question them, then gave a lecture^ 
into which he used to put some elevation on account of the 
audience. 

' Once when he had discoursed on the Patriarchs, Bouvard, 
on the way home along with him and Pecuchetj abused them 
violently. 

' " Jacob is distinguished by his rascalities, David by his 
mui'ders, Solomon by his debaucheries." 

' The Abbe replied to him that one must look further than 
that. The saci'ifice of Abraham is the type of the Passion ; 
Jacob another type of the Messiah, like Joseph, like the brazen 
serpent, like Moses. 

' " Do you believe," said Bouvard, " that he composed the 
Pentateuch ? " 

'"Yes, without doubt." 

' " Yet his death is recorded in it ; the same remark applies 
to Joshua ; and as for the Judges, the author infoi'ms us that at 
the period whose history he is writing Israel had not as yet 
kings. The work then was written under the kings. The 
prophets also amaze me." 

' " Now he is going to deny the prophets." 

' " Not at all ! But their heated imagination saw Jehovah 
under different forms, that of a fire, of a bush, of an old man, of 
a dove ; and they were not certain of revelation since they are 
always asking for a sign." 

* " Ah, and you have foimd these fine things .'' " 

' " In Spinoza." 

' At this word the cure jumped. 

' " Have you read him } " 

' " Heaven forbid ! And yet, sir, science . . ." 

' "Sir, one is not scientific if one is not a Christian," 

'The subject of science inspired him with sarcasms: — "Will 
it make a single blade of corn grow, your science .'' What do we 
know > '' said he. 

' But he did know that the world was created for us ; he knew 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 341 

that archangels are above angels ; he knew that the human 
body will rise again^ such as it was at thirty years of age. 

' His sacerdotal confidence maddened Bouvard, who, mis- 
trusting Louis Hervieu, wrote to Varlot ; and Pecuchet, better 
informed, asked M. Jeufroy for explanations of the Holy 
Scriptures. 

' The six days of Genesis mean six great epochs. The theft 
of the precious jewels taken by the Jews from the Egyptians 
must be taken to signify intellectual riches, — the arts, whose 
secrets they had stolen. Isaiah did not completely disrobe him- 
self, nudus in Latin meaning only to the hips ; thus Virgil 
advises us to strip to plough, and that writer would never have 
given a precept contrary to decency ! Ezekiel devouring a 
book has nothing extraordinary in it ; do not we talk of devour- 
ing a pamphlet, a paper ? 

"But if we see .metaphors everywhere, what will become of 
the facts .''" The Abbe none the less asserted that they were real. 

' This manner of understanding them appeared to Pecuchet 
disloyal. He pushed his researches further, and brought a note 
on the contradictions in the Bible. " Where," he asked, " was 
the inspiration ? " 

'"The greater the reason for admitting it," replied M. 
Jeufroy, smiling. " Impostors require consistency, honest writers 
do not trouble about it. In difficulty let us have recourse to 
the Church ! She is infallible always." 

' " Whence comes her infallibility ? " 

' " The Councils of Bale and of Constance attribute it to the 
Councils. But the Councils are often at variance — for example, 
the one which passed a verdict for Athanasius and for Arius ; 
those of Florence and the Lateran attribute it to the Pope. 
But Adrian vi. declares that the Pope can make a mistake 
like any other man." 

'"Quibbles ! All that has nothing to do with the perman- 
ence of dogma." 

'"Louis Hervieu's work points out its variations. Baptism 
formerly was reserved for adults, extreme unction was not a 
sacrament till the ninth century, the real presence was decreed 
in the eighth, purgatory recognised in the fifteenth, the im- 
maculate conception is an affair of yesterday." 



34^ LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

' M. Jeufroy secretly consulted his friend Pruneau, who 
sought for proofs for him in the authors. A war of erudition 
ensued; and, stimulated by his self-esteem, Pecuchet became 
transcendently mythological. 

' He compared the Virgin to Isis, the Eucharist to the homa of 
the Persians,Bacchusto Moses, Noah's Ark to the ship of Xithurus ; 
— these resemblances proved for him the identity of religions. 

' But there cannot be several religions since there is only one 
God, — and when he was at the end of his arguments the man 
of the cassock used to cry, " It is a mystery ! " 

' What does that word mean ? Deficiency of knowledge ; 
very good. But if it indicates a thing, the mere statement of 
which involves a contradiction, it is a folly ; and Pecuchet would 
not leave M. Jeufroy. He surprised him in his garden, awaited 
him at the confessional, hurried him into the sacristy.' 

The priest used to devise plans of escape, but he was not 
always successful ; and one day Pecuchet succeeded in inter- 
cepting him on the high-road, and entangling him in a long 
discussion on the subject of persecutions and martyrdoms ; a 
very heavy shower of rain came on ; they had only one 
umbrella between them, and there they stood belly to belly 
under its protection, shaken by the violence alike of the 
storm and their altercation. In the end Pecuchet claimed 
the title of martyr for the Protestants killed in Ireland and 
Belgium by the Catholics, but he was met by the statement 
that there are no martyrs outside the Church. 

* " One word : if the value of a martyrdom depends upon 
the doctrine, how could it serve to demonstrate the value of 
the doctrine .'' " 

'They parted at the priest's house, who could only say: "I 
am sorry for you ; in real truth, I am sorry for you ! " ' 

Meanwhile the visits to the chateau were continued, and 
Madame de Noares interested herself in the conversion of 
Pecuchet ; she secretly sewed a medal of St. Joseph into the 
lining of his cap, that saint being particularly favourable to 
conversions. 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 343 

' Her time was spent in writing letters, in visiting the poor, 
in dissolving irregular cohabitations, in distributing photographs 
of the Sacred Heart. A gentleman was to send her some 
" martyr paste," a mixture of paschal wax and the human dust 
taken from the catacombs, and which is used in plasters or 
pilules in desperate cases. She promised some of it to 
Pecuchet. 

' He seemed shocked at such materialism. 

' In the evening a footman from the chateau brought him a 
bundle of little books, relating pious speeches of the great 
Napoleon, smart remarks made by clergymen in public-houses, 
horrible deaths that had happened to atheists. Madame de 
Noares knew all that by heart, and a quantity of miracles as well. 

'She related stupid ones, aimless miracles, as if God had 
worked them to mystify the world. Her own grandmother 
had shut up some dried plums in a cupboard covered with a 
cloth, and when the cupboard was opened a year later, thirteen 
of them were seen on the cloth, forming a cross. 

' " Explain me that I " 

' This was her phrase after her stories, which she maintained 
with the obstinacy of a pack-ass ; for the rest a good-natured 
woman and of a playful humour. 

' Once, however, she '- forgot herself." 

' Bouvard was protesting against the miracle of Pezilla : a jam- 
pot in which consecrated wafers had been hidden during the 
Revolution gilded itself. 

' " Perhaps there was a little yellow colour at the bottom 
coming from damp ! " 

' "■ No, certainly not ! I tell you again, no ! The gilding 
was caused by the contact with the Eucharist." 

' And she gave the attestations of Bishops in proof. " It is, 
they say, like a buckler, a — a palladium over the diocese of 
Perpignan. Ask M. Jeufroy ! " 

' Bouvard could not stand it any longer, and having looked 
up his Louis Hervieu, took Pecuchet with him. 

' The ecclesiastic was finishing dinner. Reine offered chairs, 
and on a sign she went and fetched two liqueur-glasses, which 
she filled with Rosolio. 

* After this Bouvard revealed what brought him. 

' The Abbe did not reply frankly. 



344 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

' " Everything is possible with God, and miracles are a proof 
of religion." 

' " There are, however, laws." 

' " That is neither here nor there. He disturbs them to in- 
struct, correct." 

' " How do you know if He disturbs them ? " continued 
Bouvard. " So long as nature follows her routine one does not 
think of her, but in an extraordinary phenomenon we see the 
hand of God." 

' " It may be there," said the ecclesiastic ; " and when an 
event is proved by the evidence of witnesses .'' " 

' " The witnesses spoil the whole thing, for there are false 
miracles." 

'The priest turned red. 

' " Doubtless, sometimes." 

' " How are we to distinguish them from the true ones .'' And 
if the true ones given in proof themselves need proof, why per- 
form them .'' " 

' Reine intervened, and preaching like her master, said that 
we must obey. 

' " Life is a passage, but death is etei'nal." 

' " In short," added Bouvard, rolling the Rosolio in his mouth, 
" the miracles of other days are no better demonstrated than 
those of to-day ; analogous reasonings defend those of the 
Christians and of the Pagans." 

'The cure threw the fork on the table. 

' " Those were false, yet again ! no miracles outside the 
Church ! " 

' " Stop," said Pecuchet, " the same argument as for the 
martyrs : the doctrine is supported by the facts, and the facts by 
the doctrine." 

' M. Jeufroy after drinking a glass of water resumed : " Even 
while you deny them, you believe in them. The world that 
twelve fishermen converted — there — that seems to me a fine 
miracle ! " 

' " Not at all." 

' Pecuchet accounted for it in quite another manner. 

' " Monotheism comes from the Hebrews, the Trinity from 
India, the Word is in Plato, the Virgin-mother in Asia." 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 345 

' Never mind ! M. Jeufroy clung to the supernatural, would 
not allow that Christianity could have humanly the smallest 
reason for its existence, although he saw anticipations or 
deformations of it in all nations. The impious raillery of the 
eighteenth century he could have put up with ; but modern 
criticism with its politeness exasperated him. 

' " I prefer the atheist who blasphemes to the sceptic who 
cavils." 

' Then he looked at them with an air of bravado as if to dis- 
miss them. 

' Pecuchet went away in low spirits. He had hoped for the 
reconciliation of faith and reason.' 

In spite of his wavering devotion, Pecuchet still continued 
to visit the Faverges family, and was treated to edifying 
remarks on things in general by the Count, whose favourite 
phrase was, ' It ought not to be allowed.** 

' Social economy, fine arts, literature, history, scientific doc- 
trines, he decided on all in his quality as Christian, and head of 
a family ; and might God be pleased to grant, that in this re- 
spect the government might show the same severity as he dis- 
played in his family ! Power alone is the judge of the dangers 
of science ; spread too widely, it inspires the people with deadly 
ambitions. It was more happy, was this poor people, when the 
nobility and the bishops tempered the absolutism of the King. 
Now the manufacturers work it to their advantage. It is on the 
point of falling into slavery.' 

There visited at the chateau in these days one M. Mahurot, 
the prospective son-in-law of the Count ; one day on arriv- 
ing Bouvard and Pe'cuchet found the mayor waiting for M. 
Jeufroy to fix the date of the marriage, which was to take 
place at the mayor's office before the ceremony at the church, 
in order to show contempt for the civil marriage. 

Foureau tried to defend it. The Count and Hurel attacked 
it. What was a municipal function in comparison with a 
priesthood ? and the baron would not have believed himself 



346 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

married if the ceremony had only taken place in the presence 
of a three-coloured scarf. 

' " Bravo," said M. Jeufroy, coming in ; " marriage being estab- 
lished by Jesus." 

' Pecuchet stopped him : " In which Gospel ? In the Aposto- 
lic times they thought so meanly of it that Tertullian compares 
it to adultery." 

' " Oh — pray." 

' " Certainly ! and it is not a sacrament ! A sacrament de- 
mands a sign. Show me the sign in marriage ! " 

' In vain did the cure reply that it was an image of the alli- 
ance of God with the Church. "You do not understand even 
Christianity ! and law." 

' " Law preserves its stamp/' said M. de Faverges ; " without 
it, law would authorise polygamy ! " 

' A voice replied : " Where would the harm of that be .'' " 

' It was Bouvard, half hidden by a curtain. 

' " One may have several wives, like the patriarchs, the Mor- 
mons, the Mussulmans, and none the less be an honest man ! " 

' " Never ! " cried the priest ; " honesty consists in rendering 
that which is due. We owe homage to God. Now, he who is 
not a Christian is not honest." 

' " As honest as others," said Bouvard. 

' The Count thinking that he saw in this retort an attack on 
religion, exalted it. Religion had freed the slaves. 

' Bouvard cited quotations proving the contrary. 

' " Saint Paul recommended them to obey their masters, like 
Jesus. Saint Ambrose calls slaveiy a gift of God." 

' " Leviticus, Exodus, and the Councils sanctioned it. Bossuet 
classes it among the rights of nations — and Monseigneur Bouvier 
approves of it." 

* The Count objected that Christianity, none the less, had 
developed civilisation. 

' " And idleness, in making a virtue of poverty ! " 

' "Yet, six- — the morality of the Gospels." 

' " Well, well, not so moral after all ! The labourers of the 
last hour are paid as much as those of the first. To him who 
hath is given, and from him who hath not is taken away. As 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 347 

for the precept about receiving blows without returning them, 
and letting one's self be robbed, it encourages the bully, the 
coward, and the rascal." 

' The scandal redoubled when Pecuchet had declared that he 
liked Buddhism as well. 

'The priest burst into a laugh. " Buddhism." 

' Madame de Noares raised her arms : " Buddhism ! " 

' *' What . . . Buddhism ! " repeated the Count. 

'"Do you know it?" said Pecuchet to M. Jeufroy, who was 
in a fury. 

' '' Well — learn it : better than Christianity, and before 
Christianity it recognised the nothingness of earthly things. Its 
practice is austere, its faithful servants more numerous than all 
the Christians, and as for incarnation, Vishnu has not had one, 
but nine ! So judge." 

' " Traveller's lies," said Madame de Noares. 

' " Backed up by the freemasons,'' added the cure. 

' And all speaking at once : " Come now — Come — Go on ! 
Very fine ! — I think that absurd — Impossible — " Insomuch that 
Pecuchet lost his temper, and declared he would turn Buddhist. 

' " You are insulting Christian ladies ! " said the baron. 
Madame de Noares sank into an arm-chair. The Countess and 
Yolande held their peace. The Count rolled his eyes. Hurel 
was waiting for orders. The Abbe read his breviary to control 
himself.' 

Shortly after this scene the friends withdrew along with 
Foureau, the mayor still smarting imder the insult offered 
to civil marriage. 

The children of Touache, having proved intractable, had 
been handed over to him to be placed in a reformatory. 
The friends begged to be appointed guardians to these 
children ; to educate them would be a new interest in life ; 
visions of affectionate young creatures growing into grace 
under their care made Bouvard and Pecuchet look forward 
sentimentally to the future. 

Foureau, to spite the Faverges family, promised to send 
the children. 



348 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

' On returning home they found Marcel (their man-servant) at 
the foot of the staircase -.under the Madonna, on his knees, praying 
with fei-vour. His head thrown back, his eyes half-closed, his 
hare-lip parted, he had the appearance of a Fakir in ecstasy. 

' " What a brute beast ! " said Bouvard. 

' " Why ? He perhaps is witnessing things which you would 
envy him, if you could see them. Are there not two totally 
distinct worlds ? The subject of a method of reasoning has less 
value than the manner of reasoning. What does the belief 
matter .'' The important thing is to believe.'' 

' Such were the objections of Pecuchet to the remark of 
Bouvard.' 

Victor and Vietorine duly arrived ; as also did several 
books on education, from which Bouvard and Pecuchet 
learned that one must banish every metaphysical idea and 
follow the natural development according to the experi- 
mental method. 

Bouvard, as might have been expected, took charge of the 
girl, Pecuchet of the boy. 

Reading and writing proved to be things that are not 
learned as a matter of course; the children yawned, were 
irritable, fell asleep. ' Perhaps they were ill ? Too severe 
a tension injures the youthful brain.' 

As soon as the children felt at home they made havoc of 
the garden. It was necessary to provide them with amuse- 
ments. Rousseau recommends that the tutor should teach 
the child to make its own toys ; but neither Bouvard nor 
Pecuchet had the skill necessary to construct the simplest 
plaything. Fenelon recommends from time to time ' an 
innocent conversation."* They could not by any possibility 
invent a single one. 

By playing on the greediness of the boy and the vanity of 
the girl they succeeded in inducing them to read and write. 
But what next ? 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 349 

' Before proceeding to instruct a child one should know its 
aptitudes. They can be guessed by means of phrenology. 
They immersed themselves in it; then wished to verify its 
assertions upon their own persons. Bouvard had the bump of 
benevolence to show — imagination, veneration, and amorous 
energy, commonly called erotism. On the temples of Pecuchet 
were found philosophy and enthusiasm, joined with a tendency 
to dissimulation. Such actually were their characters. What 
surprised them more was to recognise in the one as in the other 
the inclination to friendship; and charmed at the discovery 
they embraced one another affectionately.' 

In order to gain experience they took to examining the 
heads of the country-folk on market days ; and scandalised 
the cure by holding their sessions in the porch of the church. 
' Phrenology, according to M. Jeufroy, denied divine omni- 
potence, and it is indecent to practise it under the shadow 
of the holy place, in the very face of the altar.'' He drove 
them away, and they established themselves at the barber"'s, 
where they encountered Vaucorbeil, the doctor. He poured 
contempt on their new science, which was not supported by 
anatomy ; and yet in his presence they made a correct state- 
ment of the characters of three separate individuals. The 
doctor went out, and slammed the door behind him. 

A subsequent examination of the heads of the two children 
afflicted them ; but — 

' One should understand the exact meaning of words ; what 
is called combativeness implies a contempt for death. If it 
causes homicide, it can also produce heroic rescues. Acquisi- 
tiveness includes both the skill of the pickpocket and the 
ardour of the merchant. Irreverence runs parallel with the 
spirit of criticism, craft with circumspection. An instinct is 
always divided into two parts, a bad one and a good one. The 
first can be destroyed by cultivating the second, and in this way 
an audacious child, far from being a bandit, will become a 
general. The coward will have only prudence, the avaricious 
man economy, the prodigal generosity. 



350 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

' A magnificent dream took possession of them ; if they 
succeeded with the education of their pupils they would found 
later on an establishment whose aim would be to correct the 
intelligence, chasten the character, ennoble the heart. They 
already talked of subscriptions and the buildings.' 

The policeman asked them to try the head of his son. 
The results of the examination were mortifying, and Placque- 
vent comforted himself by remarking that for all that, the 
boy would do what his father pleased. This led to a con- 
versation on parental rights and filial duties. 

' According to Bouvard and Pecuchet children owed nothing 
to the authors of their being ; their parents, on the other hand, 
owe them food, education, advice, everything. 

'The good folk protested against this immoral doctrine. 
Placquevent was outraged by it, as though by an insult.' 

Soon afterwards they found Placquevent cruelly cuffing 
his son's head ; they reproved him ; he replied that he had a 
right to do what he pleased with his own. 

Determined to show an example to other people they set 
about the instruction of the two children with redoubled 
activity. Pecuchet demonstrated the meaning of geographi- 
cal terms with a watering-pot and some sand ; but Victor 
could not remember what he was told. Then Pecuchet tried 
astronomy ; he put an arm-chair in the middle of the room, 
and began to waltz around it : ' Imagine that this arm-chair 
is the sun, and that I am the earth ; this is the way it 
moves." Victor looked at him full of consternation. Then 
he took an orange, pushed a stick through it to represent 
the poles, then surrounded it with a charcoal line to mark 
the equator. After this he moved the orange round a candle, 
making him observe that all parts of the surface were not 
illuminated simultaneously, which produces the difference 
of climates; and for that of the seasons he sloped the 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 351 

orange, for the earth does not stand straight, which is the 
cause of the equinoxes and the solstice. 

Victor had not understood in the least. ' He believed the 
earth twirls on a long rod, and that the equator is a ring 
enclosing its circumference. "* 

Failing with geography, Pecuchet went on to history, but 
Victor could never learn the names and dates of the kings of 
France; and his tutor came to the conclusion that history 
can only be learned by reading a great deal. 

Drawing would obviously be a useful accomplishment, and 
Pecuchet boldly set to work to qualify himself to be drawing- 
master , but without success ; he never knew when to apply 
the ' master stroke.'' 

' The sciences can be taught in connection with the commonest 
objects; say, for example, what wine is made of; and the ex- 
planation being given, Victor and Victorine had to repeat it. 
It was the same with groceries, furniture, illumination ; but 
light for them was only the lamp, and had nothing in common 
with the spark from a flint, the flame of a candle, the brightness 
of the moon. 

' One day Victorine asked, " What makes wood burn ? " Her 
masters looked at one another in confusion ; the theory of com- 
bustion was beyond them.' 

And then a more serious difficulty showed itself: 

* If one starts with facts, the simplest requires too complicated 
explanations, and if one lays down principles first, one begins 
with the absolute, with faith. 

' How can this be solved ? By combining the two methods of 
instruction, the rational and the empirical ; but a double means 
to one end is the reverse of methodical. So much the worse. 

' To initiate them in natural histoiy they ti'ied scientific ex- 
cursions. "You see," said they, pointing to an ass, a horse, an 
ox, " beasts with four legs, they are called quadrupeds. Gene- 
rally speaking, birds have feathers, reptiles scales, and butter- 
flies belong to the class of insects." 



352 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

* Then came the turn of botany. Pecuchet wrote this axiom 
upon the blackboard: — "Every plant has leaves, a calyx, and 
a corolla, enclosing an ovary or pericarp, which contains the 
seed." 

' Then he ordered his pupils to go botanising in the country 
and pluck the first flowers they found. 

'Victor brought him buttercups, Victorine a tuft of straw- 
berries. He sought in vain for the pericarp. 

' Bouvard, who distrusted his knowledge, rummaged in the 
whole library and discovered, in the Redoide des Dairies the 
picture of an iris, in which the ovaries were not situated in 
the corolla, but beneath the petals in the stem. 

* There were in the garden some burdocks and lilies of the 
valley in flower ; these rubiaceae had no calyx ; therefore the 
principle placed on the blackboard was false. 

* " It is an exception," said Pecuchet. 

* But chance caused them to discover a field-madder in the 
grass, and it had a calyx. 

' " Oh, come ! if the exceptions themselves are not true, where 
has one any confidence whatever ? " ' 

At this time an educational visit to their farm brought 
Bouvard into affectionate relations again with Madame 
Bordin, and there is no knowing what might have happened 
had not the farmer's horse got entangled in the drying-lines 
and brought down the whole weekly wash. The farmer beat 
his horse brutally ; Bouvard protested. ' It is mine,** said 
the peasant. 

Pecuchet then embarked on a course of morality ; Bouvard 
attended the first lecture with the children. 

* This science teaches us how to direct our actions. They 
have two motives : pleasure, interest ; and a third still more 
imperious, duty. 

' Duties are divided into two classes : — (1) Duties to ourselves, 
which consist in taking care of our bodies, protecting ourselves 
from all injury. They understood that perfectly. (2) "Duties 



IJFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 353 

towards others, that is to say, to be always loyal, good-humoured, 
and even fraternal, the human race being one single family. 
Often a thing pleases us which injures our equals ; interest 
differs from good, for good is in itself irreducible." The children 
did not understand. He put off the sanction of duties till the 
next time. 

'In all that, according to Bouvard, he had not defined "the good." 
' " How would you that we should define it ? one feels it." 
' Then these lessons in morality would only suit moral people, 
and Pecuchet's course went no further.' 

The effect of rewards and punishments being tried upon 
the childi-en, they were found to be delighted with praise, but 
indifferent to blame. 

In order to make them kind-hearted, they were given a 
black cat. Victor boiled it alive. ' It was his own." 

Things went from bad to worse; the friends consulted 
Bentham. 

'In order that a punishment be good, it should be propor- 
tioned to the fault, its natural consequence. Has the child 
broken a window, it should not be mended, let him suffer from 
cold ; if he asks for food when he is not hungry, give it him, 
indigestion will soon bring repentance ; if he is idle, let him 
remain without work, boredom will soon bring him back to it. 

' But Victor would not suffer from cold, his constitution could 
support excesses, and idleness would suit him.' 

Victor even destroyed the cherished coco-nut of Pecuchet, 
the companion of his life. Pecuchet forgot himself, and 
delivered a blow which hurled Victor to the earth, who rose 
in terror, fled to his room, and locked himself in. Fearing 
that he might commit suicide, Bouvard negotiated with him, 
and the bribe of a plum-tart induced him to open the door. 

' From that time he grew worse. There remained a method 
highly extolled by Monseigneur Dupanloup : " the severe 
stare"; they tried to impress a terrific aspect upon their 
countenances, and produced no effect. 

' " We have nothing left but to try religion/' said Bouvard. 

z 



354 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

'Pecuchet protested. They had banished it from their 
programme.' 

None the less the children were sent to catechism, and 
Mademoiselle Reine once more shed the light of her gracious 
countenance upon the establishment. 

But Victor beat the son of the lawyer, and Victorine 
made love to him. 

A pedagogical mania now began to rage in the breasts of 
the friends ; they were prepared to teach everything and 
everybody ; they protested against the habit of crucifying 
owls, wlio destroy mice ; but when they went further into 
the habits of animals they discovered that ' sparrows cleanse 
the cabbage-garden, but swallow cherries. Owls eat insects, 
and also bats, which are useful ; and if moles devour slugs 
they upset the soil ; of one thing they were certain, that all 
game should be destroyed as being baneful to agriculture.' 

This last dogma brought them into collision with Sorel, 
the gamekeeper, whom they found arresting a poacher. 
Their efforts on behalf of this ill-used personage brought 
them before the magistrates, who fined them. They began 
to make political speeches in the public-house. 

'As they were accused of ignorance of practical life, of a 
tendency to levelHng down, and to immorality, they developed 
these three conceptions : to replace the family name by a 
registered number ; to arrange the Fi-ench people in a hier- 
archy ; in order to keep one's place, it would be necessary from 
time to time to submit to an examination ; no more punish- 
ments, no more rewards, but a special record in every village, 
which would be handed down to posterity. 

' Contempt was poured on their system. They made an 
article about it for the Bayeux daily paper, drew up a note to 
the Prefect, a petition to the Chambers, a memorial to the 
Emperoi*. 

' The paper did not insert their article. 

' The Prefect did not condescend to reply. 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 355 

' The Chambers were dumb, and for a long time they waited 
for a scrap of paper from the Tuileries. 

' How in the world was the Emperor spending his time ? 
Doubtless with women. 

' Foureau, on behalf of the Sub-Prefect, recommended them 
a little more reserve.' 

They plunged into plans for the improvement of Chavi- 
gnolles, planned a hospital, slaughter-houses, a church. 
Pecuchet could not sleep for thinking of Haussmann. 

Victor and Victorine meanwhile gradually became intoler- 
able ; the former was proved guilty of theft, the latter of 
even worse ; and suddenly there came a letter from the wife 
of Pecuchet's old friend, Dumouchel, asking for information 
about sea-bathing on the coast of Normandy : where was to 
be found the best society, the least noise ? What were the 
means of transport, the cost of washing, etc. etc. ? 

But the friends were too far gone on their schemes for 
ameliorating humanity to pay any attention to such trivial 
details ; having failed in the education of children they 
projected a course of lectures for adults. 

They had some difficulty in securing a room for the pur- 
pose, but eventually persuaded the innkeeper to allow them 
the larger hall of the Golden Cross. They betook themselves 
to the inn, dressed with unusual care. 

(At this point the completed ms. ends, but the outline of 
the remainder of this chapter is in existence.) 

' . . . and met a large audience. Pecuchet spoke pedanti- 
cally of the faults of the Government and administration ; 
Bouvard familiarly ; the meeting broke up in great confusion. 

' The next morning they discoursed over their breakfast. 
Pecuchet saw the future of mankind in dark colours. The 
modern man has grown smaller, and become a machine. He 
expected the final anarchy of the human race, and reasoned of 
the impossibility of peace. 



356 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

' Owing to the excesses of individualism and the delirium 
of science bai-barism will ensue. He laid down three hypo- 
theses : First, Pantheistic radicalism will break every tie with 
the past, and an inhuman despotism will ensue ; second, if 
the theistic absolutism triumphs, the libei-alism with which 
humanity has been imbued since the Revolution succumbs, all 
is reversed ; third, if the convulsions which have been going 
on since '89 continue, oscillating endlessly between two ex- 
tremes, these oscillations will carry us away by their own forces. 
There will no longer be ideal, religion, morality. 

' America will have conquered the earth. 

' Future of literature. 

' Universal meanness. 

'There will no longer be anything but a vast guzzling of 
operatives. 

' End of the world by cessation of caloric. 

' Bouvard, on the other hand, saw the future of humanity 
in rose-colour. 

' The modern man is in progress. 

' Europe will be regenerated by Asia, the law of history 
being that civilisation goes from east to west ; the part to 
be played by China ; the two humanities will eventually be 
mingled. 

' Inventions of the future ; methods of travelling. Balloons. 
Submarine boats with glass windows, which will move in a 
perpetual calm, the motion of the waves being only superficial. 
Fish will be seen passing by, and landscapes at the bottom of 
the ocean. All animals will be domesticated, all methods of 
agriculture exploited. 

'The future of literature ; the opposite of industrial literature. 
The future of science — magnetic force will be regulated. 

' Paris will become a winter gax-den ; fruit-trees on the Boule- 
vards. The Seine warmed and filtered ; artificial precious stones 
will abound ; gilt everywhere ; houses lighted by new methods 
— indeed, light will be stored ; there are bodies possessing this 
property, such as sugar, the flesh of certain molluscs, Bologna 
phosphorus. People will be obliged to daub the front of their 
houses with luminous paint, and the radiation will light up the 
streets. 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 357 

'Evil will disappear because there will be no need for evil. 
Philosophy will be a religion. 

' Union of all nations. Public festivities. We shall travel 
to the heavenly bodies ; and, when the earth is worn out, 
humanity will decamp to the stars. 

* These glorious anticipations were rudely interrupted by the 
arrival of the police with a warrant from the Sub-Prefect to 
arrest Bouvard and Pecuchet. 

' In the midst of the hubbub Dumouchel and his wife turned 
up on their way to sea ; gradually the whole village penetrated 
into the garden and house. Barberou appeared in time to hear 
Bouvard accused by Gorju of having seduced Melie ; and 
believed him guilty. 

•' Eventually the friends undertook to reform themselves, 
and a second warrant from the Sub-Prefect was exhibited by 
Foureau, empowering hira to accept their submission. Bouvard 
pensioned Melie. The children were removed by the mayor, 
and showed a revolting insensibility on being taken away, 
insomuch that Bouvard and Pecuchet wept. 

' So everything had failed in their hands ; and they had no 
further interest in life. 

' A good idea was, however, secretly cherished by both of 
them ; for some time they dissembled ; at last they simul- 
taneously disclosed it. 

' "^ Copy as they used to." 

'They bought a double desk, books, pens, sandaracum, 
erasers, and so forth, and set to work.' 

Thus did Flaubert propose that the first part of his 
'revenge"' should end. The second part was to contain a 
carefully classified list of all the contradictions and absurdi- 
ties that he had encountered in his reading. On the whole, 
it is perhaps fortunate that he did not live to carry out this 
idea ; which is in itself inartistic. There are not many men 
who would have the patience to read an encyclopaedia of 
errors. 

One difficulty may occur to the reader of the foregoing 
abstract of Bouvard et Pecuchet-^ after all, the friends are 



358 LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 

not complete fools ; they are not invariably mistaken. 
Flaubert was too skilful an artist to make such an oversight 
as this ; one of the chief merits of the work is that the 
reader has continually to exert his own acuteness in order to 
see where the satire is bearing ; and in this way its interest 
is maintained. The friends, moreover, by the mere fact that 
they do take trouble to learn, are always superior to the 
men of accepted opinions around them. Bouvard not unfre- 
quently says exactly the right thing. And this is perhaps 
an additional stroke of satire, that the right thing should be 
not unfrequently said by the man whom the ordinary person 
writes down fool. 

Li what sense is this book ' a revenge \? 'Of what,** asks 
Maxime Ducamp, ' had Flaubert to avenge himself ? ' 

Personally of nothing, but in the name of knowledge and 
earnestness, of the levity and ignorance which take the chief 
places in the synagogue. 

Decordes was a fool ; Louis Bouilhet was something near 
to a genius ; but Decordes was the poet beloved of Rouen. 

Everywhere in life we meet with the man who has not 
attempted to learn, with the man who has been content 
to smatter, who has swallowed manuals, attended popular 
lectures, and these with one accord pass judgment, com- 
mendatory or the reverse, upon the student whose life has 
been given to learning. It was the student whom Flaubert 
wished to avenge upon the multitude, not himself only, but 
all those who recognise the sacred obligation of fearlessly, 
earnestly inquiring after the truth. 



INDEX 



Acropolis, Madame Colet's poem 

on the, 148. 
Adramites, the, 97. 
Aksar, the Python, 97. 
Alexandria, Flaubert's description of, 

102, 103. 
Amyot, Sieur, 16. 
Anatomy, study of, commenced by 

' Bouvard et Pecuchet,' 308. 
Andelys, Les, i, 2, 7, 17. 
Angelo, Michael, 151. 
Angouleme, Duke of, history of, 

written by ' Bouvard et Pecuchet,' 

317-320. 
ApoUonius of Tyana, 89. 
Arabs, Flaubert on the manners of 

the, 106. 
Archaeology, study of, commenced 

by 'Bouvard et Pecuchet,' 315, 

316. 
Arcontics, the, 87. 
Aristophanes, 75, 248, 296. 
Arnoux, Madame, 138. 
Aromates, the, 97. 
Art, Flaubert on, 143, 144. 
' Art for Art's sake,' 245-248. 
Athens, Meeting of Flaubert and 

English midshipmen at, 119. 
Azvedo, 151, 152. 

Bedmaker, Dialogue with the, 21, 

22. 
Bekker, The 'Charicles' of, 217. 
Bentham, quoted, 353. 
Beranger, Flaubert on, 35, 61, 78. 
Bertha, Madame Bovary's daughter, 

169, 171, 174. 



Binet, in Madame Bovary, 189, 192. 

Bordin, Widow, character in ' Bouvard 
et Pecuchet,' 306, 309, 316, 320, 
321, 322, 324, 330. 

Botany, Flaubert and the study of, 
299, 300 ; ' Bouvard et Pecuchet ' 
attempt to teach, 352. 

Bouilhet, Louis, poet, friend of Flau- 
bert, 6, 43 ; account of, 54-58 ; on 
Flaubert as a poet, 74 ; his opinion 
of Flaubert's ' St. Anthony,' 83 ; 
Flaubert's letter to, from Cairo, 
103, 104 ; Flaubert's second letter 
to, from Cairo, 106, 107 ; letter 
from Flaubert to, on literary ques- 
tions, 113, 114; letter from Flaubert 
to, on the changes in Eastern life, 
118, 119; Madame Colet's jealousy 
of, 152 ; manuscript of ' Madame 
Bovary' submitted to, 192 ; corres- 
pondence of Flaubert with, anent 
material for ' Madame Bovary,' 
196, 197, 198; death of, 238; 
friendship between Flaubert and, 
236, 240 ; Flaubert's preface to the 
posthumous volume of poems of, 
241-244; cold reception of his 
posthumous poems, 269 ; proposed 
memorial to, 248; Flaubert's regrets 
for the death of, 254 ; mentioned, 
80, 84,99, "5. 127, 129, 132, 133, 
134, 136, 138, 148, 153, 154, 155, 
156, 270, 282, 284, 291, 358. 

Boulanger, M. Rodolph, character in 
'Madame Bovary,' 176, 177, l8g, 
191. 

Bournisien, Abbe, in 'Madame 



360 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 



Bovary,' 173, 179, 191, 192, 237 ; 

administers the last sacrament to 

Madame Bovary, 190, 191. 
' Bouvard et Pecuchet,' Flaubert's 

labours on, 287 ; Flaubert's method 

of working on, 298, 299 ; the plot 

of, 304, 305 ; conclusion of, 300 ; 

summary of the story of, 305-358 ; 

criticism of the work, 301-305 ; 

mentioned, 16, 43, 44, 99, 271, 

284, 290, 293. 
Breughel's picture of St. Anthony'.s 

Temptation, 36, 280, 
Brittany, Tour by Flaubert and 

Ducamp through, 69 ; Flaubert's 

health benefited by tour in, 77. 
Bruyere, La, quoted, 295. 
Buddha, 89. 
Buffon, quoted, 241. 
Byron, Lord, mentioned, 12, 37, 148, 

296. 

C/F.SAR, the first, 33. 

Cainites, the, 87. 

Cairo, Flaubert's description of his 

life at, 103, 104. 
Cambremer, Mademoiselle, 5. 
'Candidate, the,' Flaubert's comedy 

of, 271, 286, 287. 
Carlyle, mentioned, 127, 247, 301, 

302. 
Carpocratians, the, 87. 
Carthage, the scene of Flaubert's 

Salammbo, 202 ; visited by Flaubert, 

122. 
Catoblepas, the, 95, 96. 
Cervantes, mentioned, 296, 301, 302. 
Charpentier, 298. 
Chase, mediaeval saints connected 

with the, 272. 
Chateaubriand, mentioned, 12, 37, 

296 ; the tomb of, at St. Malo, 74. 
Chatelet, Madame, Madame Colet's 

life of, 136. 
Chemistry, study of, commenced by 

'Bouvard et Pecuchet,' 307. 
Chevalier, Ernest, letters of Gustave 



Flaubert to, i, 2 ; intimate friend 
of Flaubert, 6, 8 ; letter from Flau- 
bert to, anent his theatre, 7 ; letter 
from Flaubert to, on the censorship 
of the stage, 13 , goes to Paris to 
read law, 16 ; further letter to, in 
Paris, 22-24 ; Flaubert's letter to, 
on student life in Quartier Latin, 
30 ; letter to, from Flaubert, 44 ; 
his marriage, 118; congratulated 
by Flaubert on his marriage, 120. 

Churches, Flaubert's reflections on 
provincial, 72, 73. 

Circoncellions, the, 87. 

Cloots, Anarchist, 290, 291. 

Cloquet, Dr. Jules, 19, 82 ; letter 
from Flaubert to, anent the prosecu- 
tion of ' Madame Bovary,' 201. 

Colet, Madame Louise, Ducamp's 
account of her literary works, etc., 
129-133, 135 ; her ' Lui et Elle,' 
129 ; her ' Une liistoire de Soldat,' 
135; her ' Lui,' 129, 133, 135 ; 
her 'Elle et Lui,' 129; Flaubert's 
correspondence with, 138-155 ; her 
'La Sei-vante' (poem), 135; her 
'La Servante' (prose), 133, 135; 
her life of Madame Chatelet, 136 ; 
her poem on the Acropolis, 14S ; 
specimen of her poetical powers, 
150; her love for Flaubert, 133, 
134; Flaubert's admiration for, 
^37f 138; her jealousy of Bouilhet, 
152; Ducamp's epitaph on, 133; 
her death in 1875, I33> I35- 

Collier, Admiral, family of, 9, 25 ; 

Miss Gertrude. 6'(;eTennant, Mrs. 

Colosseum, the, 88. 

Commanville, Madame, 27 ; descrip- 
tion of Flaubert's home-life at 
Croisset by, 123-126 ; letter to, 
announcing speedy end of ' Bou- 
vard et Pecuchet,' 300. 

M., failure of, 270; Flaubert's 

generosity to, 2S8. 

Comte, Auguste, Flaubert's opinion 
of his philosophy, 113, 285. 



INDEX 



361 



Coptic bishop in Cairo, Flaubert's 

visit to the, 105. 
Cormenin, Louis de, 132 ; letter from 

Flaubert to, 34-36. 
Corneille, Pierre, 282, 296 ; quoted, 

241. 
Cousin, Victor, 133, 136. 
Croisset, Flaubert's removal to, 37, 

38; Flaubert's home life at, 122- 

126. 
Cruchard, name assumed by Flaubert, 

281, 286, 287, 288. 
Rev. Father, sham autobiography 

of, 20. 
Cynocephali, the, 95. 

Damis, follower of Apollonius, 89. 

Danseh, the ceremony of the, 107, 
108. 

Dante, mentioned, 304. 

Daudet, Alphonse, 270, 298. 

Death, Flaubert on, 41, 42. 

Decorde, M., of Rouen, 291. 

Delaunay, a pupil of Dr. Flaubert, 
100, 178; the prototype of Bovary 
in ' Madame Bovary,' 157, 158. 

Derozerays, M.,in 'Madame Bovary,' 
177. 

Devil, the, in Flaubert's ' St. An- 
thony,' 85, 92, 93, 94. 

Dickens, mentioned, 247 ; Flaubert 
on the ' Pickwick ' of, 281. 

Dictionary of accepted opinions, 
Flaubert's, 113, 304. 

Don Quixote, 147. 

Ducamp, Maxime, his description of 
Flaubert at age of twenty-one, 20 ; 
his description of Flaubert's law 
studies, 25, 26 ; his description of 
Flaubert's life in Paris, 27 ; travels 
with Flaubert, 32 ; account of his 
friendship for Flaubert, 33, 34 ; 
letter from Flaubert to, on death of 
Caroline Flaubert, 38-40 ; letter 
from Flaubert to, on death, future 
life, and his plans for future work, 
40-42 ; on Flaubert's love for his 



mother, 44, 45 ; tour through Brit- 
tany with Flaubert, 69 et seq. ; 
wounded in the tumults of 1848, 
72 ; proposed eastern tour with 
Flaubert, 82 ; on the temptation 
of St. Anthony, 83 ; his criticism 
of Flaubert's 'St. Anthony,' 96; 
eastern journey with Flaubert, loi; 
his care of Flaubert, 103 ; account 
of incident between Flaubert and 
himself in the desert, no, in; 
receives letter from Madame Flau- 
bert imploring their return, 114; 
his epitaph on Madame Colet, 133; 
his 'Souvenirs Litteraires,' 134; 
his slight control over Flaubert, 
137 ; manuscript of ' Madame 
Bovary' submitted to, 192 ; ' Ma- 
dame Bovary' sent to, 198; his 
opinion of Flaubert's Salammbo, 
202 ; letter from Flaubert to, after 
the death of Bouilhet, 239 ; letter 
from Flaubert on the Franco- 
Prussian war to, 259, 260 ; men- 
tioned, 43, 66, 84, 99, 107, 120, 
156, 178, 182, 183, 244, 248, 271, 
280, 35S. 

Dupanloup, Monseigneur, 17; Flau- 
bert's opinion of, 292. 

Duplan, Jules, Flaubert's letter to, 
239- 

Dupuis, M. Leon, a character in 
'Madame Bovary,' 166, 167, 169, 
170, 174, 179, 180, 181, 187, 188, 
189, 191. 

' Education Sentimentale,' ac- 
count of Flaubert's, 221, 251-254 ; 
mentioned, 16, 33, 46, 98, 240. 

Egypt, English occupation of, pre- 
dicted, 106. 

Eliot, George, 194, 195, 247. 

' Elle et Lui,' Louise Colet's, 129. 

England, Flaubert on the occupation 
of Egypt by, 106 ; visited by Flau- 
bert, 121. 

Ennoia, the woman, 88, 89. 



362 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 



Faverges, Comte de, character in 
' Bouvard et Pecuchet,' 306, 315, 
316, 322, 328, 329, 335, 337, 345- 
347. 

Felicite, Madame Bovary's maid, 
171, 183. 

Feydeau, Ernest, 135 ; Flaubert's 
correspondence with, 225, 226. 

Fiction, power of, to influence the 
national mind, 10, li. 

' Flamarande,' George Sand's story, 
288. 

Flaubert, Achille Cleophas, father of 
Gustave, 3, 4, 37, 157; his mis- 
tress, 64 ; death of, at Croisset, 38. 

Caroline, sister of Gustave, 27 ; 

marriage of, to Hamard, 36, 38 ; 
her death at Croisset, 38, 39. 

Gustave, his parentage, 3-5; his 

first letter to Ernest Chevalier, i ; 
his last published letter to the same, 
2 ; school days of, 6 ; his simplicity 
in childhood, 5, 6 ; his description 
of his father in 'Madame Bovary,' 
3, 4; letter to Ernest Chevalier 
from, anent his theatre, 7 ; early 
taste for literature, 7 ; Mrs. Ten- 
nant's description of, 9 ; early read- 
ing of, 12 ; on the establishment of 
the censorship of the stage, 13 ; 
his letter to Ernest Chevalier in 
Paris, 16 ; on the study of mathe- 
matics, 17 ; goes to Paris to study 
law, 19 : irregularity of his law 
studies, 26 ; rejected at the law ex- 
amination, 30, 3 1 ; letter to Chevalier 
in Paris, 22-24 ; on ambition, 28 ; 
develops a fit of economy, 28, 29 ; 
introduced to Victor Hugo, 29 ; 
on student life in the Quartier Latin, 
30 ; seized with an hysterico-epi- 
leptic attack, 32 ; references to his 
malady, 143, 149, 223, 283 ; letter 
to Louis dc Cormenin on literary 
criticism, 34-36 ; a hero-worshipper, 
37 ; his letter to Ducamp on the 
death of his sister Caroline, 38-40 ; 



letter to Ducamp on death and 
future life, and his plans for future 
work, 40-42 ; his disgust of middle- 
class life, 43, 44 ; the two love 
passions of, 46 ; love letters of, 
with the Parisian poetess, 47-53, 
59-68 ; his letter to Mrs. Tennant 
on her leaving Paris, 65, 66 ; on 
methods in study, 67, 68 ; makes a 
tour through Brittany with Ducamp, 
69, et seq ; not always a comfort- 
able fellow-traveller, 71; and the 
'young phenomenon,' 71 ; on 
churches and the Lady Chapel of 
Pont L'Abbe, 72, 73 ; reflections 
on the tomb of Chateaubriand, 74 ; 
contrariness of, in his writings and 
actions, 75, 76 ; his health benefited 
by tour in Brittany, 77 ; on style, 

77 ; at a reform dinner in Rouen, 

78 ; watches at deathbed of Alfred 
de Poittevin, 79, 80 ; proposed 
eastern tour by, 82 ; his love of 
mere names, 97 ; his retentive 
memory, 98 ; departs on his eastern 
tour, loi ; description of the land- 
ing at Alexandria, 102, 103 ; letter 
to Bouilhet from Cairo, 103, 104 ; 
visits the Coptic bishop, 105 ; on 
the English occupation of Egypt, 
106 ; second letter to Bouilhet from 
Cairo, 106, 107 ; makes acquaint- 
ance of the Governor of Ibrim, 109, 
1 10 ; incident in the desert between 
Ducamp and, no, in ; letter to 
his mother relating his amusements 
in Cairo, in, 112; letter to Bouilhet 
from Damascus on literary matters, 
113, 114; visits Nazareth, 114; 
returns home from eastern tour, 
114 ; letter from to ' Uncle Parain,' 
115; letter to his mother on the 
education of his niece, 116; his 
views on matrimony, 117, 118 ; on 
marriage, 283 ; letter to Bouilhet 
on the changes in eastern life, 118, 
119; meeting with English mid- 



INDEX 



363 



shipmen at Athens, 119 ; on friend- 
ship, 119, 120; congratulates 
Ernest Chevalier on his marriage, 
120, 121 ; his growing baldness, 
120, 121; visits Carthage, 122; 
home life at Croisset, 122-126 ; the 
' Leonce' of Madame Colet's ' Lui,' 
129, 133 ; introduced to Madame 
Colet, 131, 132; inquires of 
Bouilhet anent 'the Muse,' 134, 
135 ; letter to Madame des Genettes 
on the death of Madame Colet^ 
135 ; his admiration for Madame 
Colet, 137, 138; his correspondence 
with Madame Colet, 138-155; on 
Shakespeare, 36, 62, 147, 148 ; re- 
vises Madame Colet's MS. poem on 
the Acropolis, 148 ; prosecuted for 
the publicationof 'Madame Bovary, ' 
156 ; correspondence with Bouilhet 
anent material for 'Madame Bovary ,' 
196-198 ; letter to Laurence Pichat 
anent 'Madame Bovary,' 198, 199; 
letter to Madame Schlesinger anent 
prosecution of ' Madame Bovary,' 
199, 200; prosecution of, for publish- 
ing ' Madame Bovary,' 199, 201 ; 
letter to Jules Cloquet, anent his 
prosecution over ' Madame Bovary,' 
201 ; his occupations after the pub- 
lication of Salammbo, 220 ; corres- 
pondence with Madame Roger des 
Genettes, 222, 228, 230, 231 ; his 
correspondence with Mademoiselle 
Leroyer de Chantepie, 221-225, 
226-228, 232-234 ; correspondence 
with Ernest Feydeau, 225, 226 ; his 
labours over the literary remains of 
Bouilhet, 238 ; letter to Jules Du- 
plan on Bouilhet's death, 239 ; letter 
to Ducamp after the death of Bouil- 
het, 239 ; friendship between Bouil- 
het and, 239, 240 ; his preface to 
Bouilhet's posthumous volume of 
poems, 241-244 ; his letter to the 
municipal council of Rouen, 249, 
250 : letter to George Sand anent 



the reviews of his ' Education Sen- 
timentale,' 251, 252 ; his regrets for 
Bouilhet's death, 254 ; letter to 
Edmond de Goncourt on his loss by 
Bouilhet's death, 254, 255 ; distaste 
for politics, 255 ; his correspondence 
with George Sand during 1870-71, 
255-268 ; extract from letter of to 
Claudius Popelin, 259 ; refers to 
Franco-Prussian War in a letter to 
de Goncourt, 259; letter from, 
to Madame Regnier, 261 ; extract 
of letter of, to Madame des Genettes, 
268 ; his mother's death, 268 ; his 
occupations after the war, 269, 
270 ; the literary work of his 
last years, 271, 272 ; generosity 
of, to the family of M. Comman- 
ville, 270, 288; on Dickens's 
' Pickwick,' 281 ; letter to George 
Sand on death ofTheophile Gautier, 
281, 282; letter to George Sand 
anent Levy the publisher, 284 ; 
letter to Madame Genettes anent 
Levy the publisher, 285 ; his opinion 
of George Sand, 285 ; his labours 
over the composition of ' Bouvard 
et Pecuchet,' 287 ; extract from 
letter of, to M. Zola, 288 ; solicits 
friends for aid for his ' Bouvard et 
Pecuchet,' 290 ; letter to Guy de 
Maupassant, 291 ; his opinion of 
Herbert Spencer, 292 ; his opinion 
on Dupanloup, 292 ; letter from to 
Guy de Maupassant defending him 
from the charge of immorality, 294- 
297 ; his method of working on 
'Bouvard et Pecuchet,' 298, 299 ; 
his death, 300; his 'Bouvard et 
Pecuchet,' 305-358 ; his ' Madame 
Bovary,' 158-195 ; summary of his 
' Salammbo,' 202, 207 ; his own 
estimate of the work, 207, 208 ; 
his defence of the work against the 
criticism of M. Froehner, 208-216; 
his comedy 'The Candidate,' 271, 
286, 287 ; his ' Education Sentimen- 



364 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 



tale,' account of, 221, 251-254; pub- 
lication of his 'Education Sentimen- 
tale,'25i ; his 'St. Julian, '273-280; 
his tragedy of Jenner, or the Dis- 
coveryofVaccine,'56-58; analysis of 
the ' Temptation of St. Anthony,' 
82-99 ; liis conception of St. An- 
thony, 96 ; his ' Novembre,'40, 41. 

Flaubert, Madame, mother of Gustave, 
Flaubert's letter to, from Malta, 
loi, 102 ; Flaubert's letter to, from 
Cairo, 107-109; second letter to, 
from Cairo, III, 112; death of, 268. 

Fontaine, La, 296, 

Fortin, doctor, 298. 

Fossils, collected by ' Bouvard et 
Pecuchet,' 311, 312, 

Foureau, M. , character in ' Bouvard et 
Pecuchet,' 306, 323, 345-347, 34^, 
357- 

France and Frenchmen : repression of 
freedom in France, 11 ; French 
least understand liberty, 10; French 
poetry, melody of, 240 ; French 
doctor in Cairo, writer of tragedies, 
III. 

Franco-Prussian war of 1870, 252 ; 
references to the, in Flaubert's 
letters to George Sand, 255-266. 

Friendship, Flaubert on, 119, 120. 

Froehner, M., Flaubert's reply to his 
criticism of ' Salammbo,' 208-216. 

Gangarides, the, 97. 

Gautier, Theophile, 23 ; letter from 
Flaubert to George Sand on the 
death of, 281, 282 ; death of, 269. 

Genettes, Charles Roger des, 222. 

Madame Roger des, Flaubert's 

correspondence with, 222, 228, 230, 
231 ; Flaubert's letter to, on the 
death of 'the Muse,' 135 ; extract 
of letter of Flaubert to, 268 ; Flau- 
bert's letter to, anent paying Levy 
the publisher, 285 ; letter to, on 
plot of 'A Simple Soul,' 289; 
Flaubert's remarks to, anent his 



reading for ' Bouvard et Pecuchet,' 
293, 294; references to, 270, 290. 

Geography ' Bouvard et Pecuchet,' 
attempt to teach, 350, 351. 

Geology, study of, commenced by 
' Bouvard et Pecuchet,' 312.315. 

Goethe, mentioned, 227, 234, 241, 
296, 301, 

Goncourt, Edmond de, letter from 
Flaubert to, on his loss by Bouil- 
het's death, 254, 255 ; reference 
to Franco-Prussian war in a letter 
by Flaubert to, 259 ; extract from 
letter of Flaubert to about state of 
his health, 293 ; mentioned, 298. 

Gorju, a character in ' Bouvard et 
Pecuchet,' 315, 320, 323, 324, 339, 

, 357- 

Guerand, Flaubert and Ducamp at 
the fair of, 71. 

IIamard, a friend of Flaubert, im- 
prisonment of, 27 ; marries Caroline 
Flaubert, 27, 38. 

Hamilcar, in ' Salammbo,' 202-207. 

Hassan, Flaubert's Dragoman, 104, 
105. 

Heliogabalus, Flaubert on, 35. 

' Herodias,' Flaubert's, 16, 272, 

Herodotus quoted, 50. 

Hilarion, a character in Flaubert's 
' St. Anthony,' 86, 89, 91, 92. 

Hippolyte, ostler at the Golden Lion, 
in ' Madame Bovary,' 178. 

History, study of, commenced by 
' Bouvard et Pecuchet,' 317. 

Homais, H., a character in 'Madame 
Bovary,' 165, 168, 169, 170, 175, 
176, 178, 179, 183-186, 190, 191, 
192, 196, 197, 237. 

Homer, Flaubert's opinion of, 36. 

Homeric Poems, the, 304. 

Homerites, the, 97. 

Horace mentioned, 75, 121, 296. 

Hugo, Victor, Flaubert's account of 
his introduction to, 29 ; mentioned, 
12, 27, 37, 104, 137, 147, 148, 220. 



INDEX 



365 



Ibrim, the Governor of, 109. 
Immorality, Guy de Maupassant 

charged with, 294. 
Isis, the goddess, 90. 

Jaffa, the smells of, 149. 

'Jenner, or the Discovery of Vaccine,' 

Flaubert's tragedy of, 56-58. 
Jeufroy, Abbe, character in ' Bouvard 

et Pecuchet,' 306, 312, 313, 316, 

323, 326-328, 329, 331, 336, 337, 

340, 345-347, 349- 
Julie, M'amselle, Flaubert's old nurse, 

128. 

Kipling, Rudyard, 157. 
Knouphis, 87, 88. 

La Fayette, Marquis de, i. 

Lagardy, singer, 179. 

Langlois, 13. 

Lebanon, adoration of the cedars in, 
114. 

Lefebure, the philosophy of, 294, 

Leghorn, earthquake at, 59, 60. 

Lemaitre, Jules, 298. 

Leroyer de Chantepie, Mademoiselle, 
Flaubert's correspondence with, 
221-225, 226-228, 232-234. 

Levy, publisher of Bouilhet's posthu- 
mous poems, 269, 284, 285. 

Lheureux, M., character in * Madame 
Bovary,' 170, 1S7, 188. 

Literature, the province of, 245-248. 

' Lui ' of Madame Colet, 129, 133. 

' Lui et Elle,' Louise Colet's, 129. 

'Madame Bovary,' origin of the 
story, 100 ; the making of, 196- 
198; publication of, 156; sum- 
mary of the story of, 158-195; 
prosecution of, as immoral, 199- 
201 ; effects of reading, and similar 
works, 193, 194 ; Flaubert's de- 
scription of his father in, 3, 4 ; 
mentioned, 99, 122, 128, 129, 133, 
138, 140, 234, 237, 271, 272, 295. 



Magus, Simon, 88, 89. 

Malta, Flaubert's letter to his mother 
from, loi, 102. 

Marescot, M., character in 'Bouvard 
et Pecuchet,' 306, 322, 

Marie, Ernest le, friend of Flaubert, 
6, 20. 

Marmontel, mentioned, 12, 56, dT. 

Marriage, Flaubert on, 283 ; ' Bou- 
vard et Pecuchet ' on, 346, 347. 

Mathematics, Flaubert's distaste for, 

17. 

Mathilde, the Princess, 220. 

Matho, a character in ' Salammbo,' 
203, 204, 205, 206, 218. 

Matrimony, Flaubert's views on, 117, 
118. 

Maupassant, Guy de, letter from 
Flaubert to, announcing commence- 
ment of ' Bouvard et Pecuchet,' 
287 ; invited to Croisset, 298 ; 
Flaubert's letter to, about women, 
etc., 291 ; threatened prosecution 
of, for immorality, 294 ; mentioned, 
8, 157, 219, 270. 

Medicine, study of, commenced by 
' Bouvard et Pecuchet,' 309. 

Melie, housemaid, character in ' Bou- 
vard et Pecuchet,' 320, 330, 331, 

357. 
Messalians, the, 87. 
Mignot, Father, 2, 5. 
Milton, mentioned, 245. 
Mirag, the, 97. 
Moliere, mentioned, 57, 113, 151, 

296. 
Montaigne, mentioned, 12. 
Monville, near Rouen, waterspout at, 

44. 
Musset, Alfred de, 129, 133, 142. 
Myrmecoleo, the, 97. 

Narcisse, Flaubert's servant, 128. 
Narrhavas, a character in, ' Salamm- 
bo,' 206, 207. 
Nazareth, Flaubert at, 114. 
Nebuchadnezzar, 86. 



366 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 



Nero, Flaubert's opinion of, 35. 
Nicolaitans, the, 87. 
' Novembre,' a romance of Flaubert's, 
40, 41. 

Cannes, the god, 89, 90. 
Olympus, the gods of, 90. 
Ophidians, the, 88. 
Optimism, Flaubert on, 76. 
Orlowski, Polish refugee, 13. 

Pantheon of Rome, 121. 

Parain, uncle, a relative of Flaubert's, 
114, IIS, "7> 124. 

'Paries Champs et par les Grcves,' 
Flaubert's, 70, 72. 

Pastinaca, the, 97. 

Paternians, the, 87. 

Pei'rault, mentioned, 296. 

Petit, schoolmaster, character in 
'Bouvard et Pecuchet,' 323, 325- 
328. 

Phrenology, study of commenced by 
' Bouvard et Pecuchet,' 349, 350. 

Physiology, study of, commenced by 
' Bouvard et Pecuchet, ' 308. 

Pichat, Laurence, editor of ' Revue 
de Paris,' 178, 183 ; letter to, from 
Flaubert anent ' Madame Bovary,' 
198, 199. 

Pinard, council for the prosecution 
against the author of ' Madame 
Bovary,' 292, 293. 

Planche, Gustave, 27. 

Plato, mentioned, 302. 

Play-writing commenced by ' Bouvard 
et Pecuchet,' 321, 322. 

Poittevin, Alfred de, friend of Flau- 
bert, 6, 8, 227, 270 ; account of, 43, 
44 ; inspires Flaubert's ' St. An- 
thony,' 99 ; death of, 79 ; his death- 
bed watched by Flaubert, 79, 80. 

Politics, study of commenced by 
' Bouvard et Pecuchet,' 329, 330, 
354. 

Pompey's Pillar, 115. 

Pont L'Abbc, the Lady Chapel of, 73. 



Popelin, Claudius, extract from letter 

of Flaubert to, 259. 
Pradier, sculptor in Paris, 25, 29, 46, 

60, 137; introduces Flaubert to 

Madame Colet, 131, 132. 
Presteros, the, 97. 
Prevost, the Abbe, 123. 
Priscillathe prophetess, 87. 
Priscillanians, the, 87. 
Prussia, Flaubert on the war with, 

252, 255-266. 
Pyramids, visited by Flaubert, 104, 

106. 

()UARTIER Latin, Flaubert's account 
of student life in the, 30. 

Rabbetana, a goddess, 204. 

Rabelais, mentioned, 12, 151, 245, 
296, 301, 302. 

Railway between Paris and Rouen, 
opening of, 26. 

Regnier, Madame, letter from Flaubert 
to, 261. 

Religion, Flaubert on, 228-230, 232, 
233 ; study of, commenced by 
' Bouvard et Pecuchet,' 337-347' 

Renan, Flaubert on, 268. 

Revoil, Antoine, father of Madame 
Colet, 131. 

'Revue de Paris,' publication of 
' Madame Bovary ' in, 156, 

Rolet, Mere, 169. 

Rome, visited by Flaubert, 121. 

Rouault, Pere, a character in ' Madame 
Bovary,' 160. 

Rouen, Bouilhet elected librarian of, 
240 ; Flaubert's letter to the Muni- 
cipal Council of, 249, 250; window 
in the Cathedral of, suggests the 
story of St. Julian to Flaubert, 280. 

Rousseau, Flaubert's opinion of, 231 ; 
mentioned, 296, 299. 

Sachalites, the, 97. 
'St. Anthony,' Temptation of, Flau- 
bert's original suggestion of, 36, 280 ; 



INDEX 



367 



Flaubert's conception of what it 
should be, 96 ; analysis of the, 82- 
99 ; should rightly be named a 
'Vision,' 98; mentioned, 14, 15, 
43. 77, 107, 216, 220, 222, 229, 
237, 255. 256, 263, 271, 280. 

St. Eustace, 272, 273. 

St. Hubert, 272, 273. 

' St. Julian I'Hospitalier,' Flaubert's, 
16, 98, 99, 114, 271, 272; summary 
of the story of, 273-280. 

St. Peter's, Rome, 121. 

Sainte-Beuve, Charles- Augustin, letter 
from Flaubert to, anent ' Salammbo, ' 
207, 208 ; Flaubert on, 35. 

Salammbo, outlines of thestoryof, 202, 
207 ; Flaubert's own estimate of, 
207, 208 ; his defence of the work, 
against the criticism of M. Froehner, 
208-216 ; mentioned, 16, 83, 98, 
99, 122, 133, 229, 230, 272. 

Sand, George, mentioned, 20, 32, 129, 
137, 164, 230, 289; Madame 
Colet's hatred of, 130; Flaubert's 
letter to, anent his * Education 
Sentimentale,'25i, 252; letter from 
Flaubert to, on his loss in Bouilhet's 
death, 254 ; Flaubert's correspond- 
ence with during the years 1870-71, 
255-268 ; letter from Flaubert on 
death of Theophile Gautier, 281, 
282 ; advises Flaubert to marry, 
282 ; Flaubert's opinion of, 285 ; 
Flaubert's last letters to, 285-2S8; 
letter from Flaubert to, anent Levy 
the publisher, 284 ; death of, 269. 

Sassetti, Corsican servant of Flau- 
bert's, loi, 102, 103, 108. 

Schabarim, character in ' Salammbo,' 
203, 204, 205, 206. 

Schlesinger, Madame Maurice, letter 
from Flaubert to, 199, 200. 

Schools in France, 6, il. 

Scott, Sir Walter, Flaubert on, 281. 

Sentimental Education. See Educa- 
tion Sentime ale. 

' Servante, La,' of Madame Colet, 



(poem), 135; of Madame Colet, 
(prose), 133, 135. 

Shakespeare, Flaubert's opinion of 
36, 62, 147, 148 ; mentioned, 12, 
38, 99, 151, 234, 245, 296, 301, 
302 ; Merry Wives of, 75. 

Sheba, the Queen of, 86. 

Simon, M. Jules, 285 . 

Smar, 14, 15. 

Socrates, 33. 

' Souvenirs Litteraires ' of Ducamp, 

134- 
Spencer, Herbert, Flaubert's opinion 

of, 292. 
Spendius, a character in ' Salammbu,' 

203, 204, 205, 

Sphinx, Flaubert at the, 104. 
Spinoza, mentioned, 227. 
Stevenson, R. L., 247. 
'Story of a simple soul,' Flaubert's, 

99, 271, 272, 289. 
Study, Flaubert on method in, 67, 

68. 
Style, Flaubert's care about, 77. 

Tanit, the Phoenician Venus, 203, 

204, 207. 
Tatianians, the, 87. 
'Temptation of St. Anthony.' See 'St. 

Anthony.' 

Tennant, Mrs., her account of Flau- 
bert, 9 ; Flaubert's letter to, on her 
leaving Paris, 65, 66 ; visits Flau- 
bert, 290. 

TertuUian, introduced into Flaubert's 
'St. Anthony,' 87. 

Thackeray, 247 ; traces of revolt 
against literary despotism in, 12. 

'Thompson of Sunderland,' 115. 

Topazus, the island of, 97. 

Touche, character in ' Bouvard et 
Pecuchet,' 332, 333, 340, 347. 

Tourgenieff, intimacy of, with Flau- 
bert, 270. 

Tragelaphus, the, 97. 

'Trois Contes,' of Flaubert, 271. 

Trouville, a fishing village, 9. 



368 



LIFE OF GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 



Valentinians, the, 87. 

Valesians, the, 87. 

Vancorbeil, Dr., characterin 'Bouvard 
et Pecuchet,' 306, 307, 322. 

Vaubyessard, the Marquis de, 163. 

Victor and Victorine, children in 
'Bouvard et Pecuchet,' 347-357. 

Vigny, de, his work on ' Military Ser- 
vitude and Greatness,' 66. 

Villele, M. de, 297. 

VillemessaJ editor of the Figaro^ 

Virgil, mentioned, I2I, 296, 304, 
Voltaire, Flaubert's opinion on the 



prose of, 36 ; mentioned, 37, 56, 
107, 108, 119, 231, 296. 
' Voltaire ' (newspaper), mentioned, 
296. 

Wordsworth, mentioned, 38, 127. 

Yonville-l'Abbaye, the landscape 

around, 165. 
Yonville, agricultural show at, 176. 
Yuk, the god of the grotesque, 15. 

Zola, Emile, mentioned, 270, 298 ; 
extract from letter of Flaubert's to, 
288. 



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at the Edinburgh University Press 



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